Hamilton-less Sakhir Grand Prix promises intriguing race

For the first time in years, tonight’s Grand prix will not feature Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel of his trademark Mercedes

For the first time in years, tonight’s Grand prix will not feature Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel of his trademark Mercedes, with the British driver having to sit the race out after having tested positive for Covid-19.

The absence of the record-breaking driver has opened up what was already an exciting race to even more possibilities as the rest of the grid is expected to fight it out to see who can take his customary place at the top of the podium.

Moreoever, to add to the reshuffle of drivers that will be taking place this week, the Sakhir Grand Prix is also going to be missing Haas’s Romain Grosjean, who is still recovering from the injuries sustained in his horrific crash last week.

For the second consecutive week the drivers will be racing in Bahrain, but the circuit has been restructured into a new 3.5km fast circuit that can be lapped in less than a minute, which sets the stage for an intriguing and unpredictable race.

AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly predicted that it will be a very close race, with drivers vying for position along the track, which only has four real turns according to the Frenchman.

“It's a very short lap, only four corners really and most of the time will be made in the straight line, so I expect really close gaps and to be fair, I don't know who's going to be the fastest in the straight”, he said.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who is chasing his second Grand Prix trophy this season, played down his chances of victory despite emerging as runner-up in last week’s race, and the absence of his fierce competitor.

“Well there is no Lewis but there is Valtteri and George driving the fastest car in the field so it will still be very tough and not easy, especially with the layout we have, but that will be very close”, he said.

Meanwhile, the race will also see George Russel’s debut for Mercedes, with the Briton, who was last seen driving for Williams, replacing the 95-time grand prix winner, and adding yet another unpredictable twist to the mix.

The 22-year-old insisted that he does not feel any pressure heading into the race, but acknowledges that he faces an uphill struggle ahead of him.

“I am being thrown in at the last opportunity”, he said. “I haven’t driven their simulator in two years. I have so much information to learn and going up against Valtteri isn’t going to be easy.”

However, Russel has already shown his merit behind the seat of his Williams, so one cannot rule out the possibility of the Briton swooping in to capture what would be a historic maiden win.

So while the top spot on the podium is all up in the air, the leap into the unknown that the sport is taking this week – with a reshuffled grid and restructured lap that many are predicting will see some of the fastest lap times in F1 history – is sure to deliver a memorable race at the tail-end of what has been an unpredictable F1 season.

 

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