Bahrain chiefs keen on opening F1 season

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The management at Bahrain International Circuit has revealed that it is looking to host the opening grand prix of the season permanently.

The track in Sakhir heralded the return of Formula One after the winter break in 2006 (due to Melbourne hosting the Commonwealth Games), and in 2010. However, following the cancellation of the race in 2011, Bahrain has returned to its original placement as the fourth race on the calendar. This could all be set to change though, according to circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani.

“It’s a good start to the season,” Alzayani told Reuters.

“It gives us the chance to have the teams here longer, there is more anticipation, more unknowns, how the cars will react to the new tires, the regulations, the drivers are just back into their rhythm.

“But the decision is not entirely ours. We are talking about 2014 onwards but it’s a bit early to talk about the calendar for 2014.”

Bernie Ecclestone has welcomed the idea, although he did concede that the teams would have to be consulted.

“The only problem we have – not us, but the teams – is the cost of the logistics in coming here and going back to Europe,” Ecclestone said.

However, to get around this, Ecclestone would arrange a pre-season test to be held in Bahrain to make the race more convenient.

“That is one of the advantages of having the first race, in that they can come to the last test and then leave most of their equipment here until race weekend.

“So if we go after the first race, then we will go after a test as well but again that is not our decision.”

The opening race of the season has traditionally been held at Albert Park in Australia, but with their officials uncertain of the future of the grand prix, Bahrain could be set to open the F1 season from 2014 onwards. The timing of the race in Bahrain is also more suited to American and European audiences, which would probably be reflected in the viewing figures.

MORE: Watch FP2, qualifying and the Bahrain Grand Prix online or on your phone or tablet

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.