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GP Week : Issue 150
Y our first view from the corner, what with everything else that was going on, was not until Saturday morning, when the haze and the dust shimmered the view of the landscape. The wind swept the track, shaking it with it the occasional scrap of paper. There seemed to be a reluctance to run. The grandstands in the distance were empty but for a tiny segment reserved for VIPs. It remains, though, one of the most entrancing of all places in racing. A blind approach in fifth/sixth gear. A downhill, flat-out kink. A braking area as short as your arm. A dinky, annoying hairpin left. About the only section of modern track that comes close, you thought as you waited, would be the approach to the last corner at Valencia, where a super- quick corner leads into that final, tight, left-hander and where there’s very little room left in which to breathe. Bridge, at the older Silverstone, also sprung to mind, given the way that Luffield One always interrupted the exit flow from that flat-out, downhill right-hander. Here, though, stood everything – a rise- and-fall in both dimensions. It wouldn’t be a section the TV cameras would love; there would be no overtaking here; there would be few visits to the run-off area, even by the rabbits. A reward for skill, though, it would surely be: only the very, very best find the correct way to slow a car to 50-60mph when it’s carrying 2.5–3.0g of lateral load and where there’s no room to manoeuvre. And only the absolute best can do so for an entire Grand Prix distance. They began to appear. Installation laps and then the first of the ‘long runs.’ Tyre degradation – as ever – had been the catchword of engineering huddles. Reality – as ever – would in time deny the charge. Mark Webber came and went in a blur of blue, red and yellow. Neat, smooth – oh, so smooth – and economical. Very economical. The line of least resistance. Daniel Ricciardo, also looking very quick, locked-up an inside front as he braked hard for the hairpin; he would be the first of many to do so in the day. Now we are watching Lewis Hamilton – out there, pushing hard. He misses the apex of the kink by a metre or so. His 21 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> BAHRAIN