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Race Insights: 2020 Sakhir GP Predictions

This weekend, Formula One will once again take a step into the unknown, tackling the Bahrain outer circuit for the Sakhir GP. Although the horrific events of last weekend will live long in the memory of both motorsport fans and drivers, anticipation is building for what could be an electric weekend.



All eyes will no doubt be on the likes of George Russell and Pietro Fittipaldi both of whom are replacing absent drivers. Romain Grosjean will be absent from the grand prix this weekend as the French driver continues to recover from injuries sustained during the Bahrain GP. Meanwhile, seven time world champion Lewis Hamilton will also miss the race after returning a positive covid test.


With these factors considered, we are excited to reveal our AI predictions and insights for this weekends Sakhir GP.


If you want to learn more about the AI technology and data collection behind our race predictions, read our earlier article!

Qualifying


When it comes to tackling an unknown circuit, qualifying always provides enthralling action as drivers push their cars to the very limit whilst still discovering the track itself. This year, Lewis Hamilton has proven to be the master of Saturday qualifying, taking pole on a staggering ten occasions. However, with the current world champion out of action, there is an opportunity for other drivers to take advantage.


The insights predict that, despite Hamilton's absence, Mercedes will still achieve a front row lockout with Valtteri Bottas beating George Russell to pole. Meanwhile, Red Bull look set to lockout the second row, leaving both Verstappen and Albon with a chance of stealing victory on race day.


The midfield battle for grid positions should be intense as Sakhir hosts one of the the shortest laps of the year with qualifying pace in Q3 expected to be around fifty-five seconds. Both Renault and Ferrari are expected to have a promising qualifying session with both teams managing to get two cars into the top half of the field.


Circuit Probabilities


Collecting historic race data has been a significant challenge when calculating the circuit probabilities for the Sakhir GP as not a lot of existing circuits are similar to the outer loop.



The lack of lateral load carried by the circuit indicates similarities to a street circuit, however the asphalt provides conditions significantly more demanding than those presented by a street circuit such as Monaco. In addition to this, the levels of downforce carried by the loop are more suggestive of a track such as Monza, these contrasting variables therefore create challenges when predicting collisions, safety car periods and pit stops.


From our data analysis, teams are expected to make an average of two pit stops during the race with teams likely to adopt varying strategies. The chance of a safety car is also high due to the unfamiliar nature of the circuit and the high speed nature of several corners. As a result, there should be plenty of opportunities for less competitive teams to enter the points.


Race Day Results


Our Race Insights predict the following finishing positions as the checkered flag falls on Sunday afternoon...



By using historic race data and AI technology we can predict that Max Verstappen will be victorious at the 2020 Sakhir GP with George Russell and Valtteri Bottas also finishing on the podium. This result would be an incredible achievement for twenty-two year old Russell who is yet to score his first points within Formula One.


Despite being predicted to not convert his pole position into victory, Bottas is expected to gain an extra point for the fastest lap of the race. If this result proves to be correct, Max Verstappen could still finish second in the drivers standings if he outscores Bottas by three points at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.



Outside of the podium positions, Renault and Racing Point both look set to dominate the midfield and gain on their qualifying positions during the race. On the other hand, the weekend could prove disappointing for both AlphaTauri and McLaren with both teams finding at least one of their drivers out of the points.


With the season coming to a close and a tense battle for third in the constructors championship, every point will count!


Summary


Qualifying Result - Bottas to qualify on pole, joined by his temporary teammate George Russell.


Race Result - Max Verstappen to fend off a dominant Mercedes team to seize his 10th victory in Formula One. George Russell is expected to achieve his first points (and first podium) in F1, finishing in second - ahead of Bottas.


Fastest Lap - Despite failing to convert his predicted pole position to victory, it is expected that a Mercedes pace advantage (or alternative tire strategy), will award Bottas the extra point.

Thank you to Erick Mahle for providing our Race Insights!

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