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Bahrain drains filled with concrete for F1 race after testing disruptions

The Bahrain circuit has proceeded with the proposed plan to fill in drains repeatedly sucked up by Formula 1 cars during testing with concrete, ahead of the 2024 season-opener.

Drainage and kerb modification detail, to rectify problems from pre-season testing

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

As first reported by Autosport, the plan to seal the drains was proposed by F1 stakeholders on the final day of the three-day test last week.

Testing was heavily disrupted when a drain cover on the approach to Bahrain’s Turn 11 was forced loose.

In a Bahrain race preview statement, the FIA has now revealed that “following incidents in last week’s pre-season test sessions, remedial works, including the filling in of drains with concrete, have been carried out”.

This means the drivers will not be required to alter their lines at Turn 11 – where they have been drifting right to begin turning in for the long, sweeping and uphill left-hander from the approach kerbs.

Taking this line keeps the drivers within track limits as their inside wheels remain with the white line that defines the track edge but allows them to maintain higher speed and protect their tyres thanks to the increased cornering angle.

The concrete works have also taken place on “an additional area around Turn 7”, per the FIA statement.

Extra welding work has also been conducted on other drain covers around the track where the cars and their powerful ground effect floors that can force the metal loose traverse the respective drains and kerbs less often.

The work at Turn 7 in Bahrain concerns the racing line exiting the fast, downhill left-hander – where the cars often run out wide and hard over the exit kerbs and where there is a line of drain covers that could be impacted by repeat exposure to the ground effect forces.

Marshalls and Race control work to fix a loose drain cover

Marshalls and Race control work to fix a loose drain cover

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

The concrete filling plan has been made possible because there is no rain forecast to impact the F1 race weekend, as occurred dramatically during the Bahrain pre-season test for the Formula 2 and Formula 3 championships earlier in February.

Elsewhere, F1 race director Niels Wittich’s event notes remind the teams and drivers that “in accordance with the provisions of Article 33.3, the white lines define the track edges” and “during qualifying and the race, each time a driver fails to stay within the track limits, this will result in that lap time being invalidated by the stewards”.

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For the Bahrain race, this means the racing line at the track’s Turn 4 will change compared to testing, as the above instruction outlaws the line taken during testing, where the drivers were regularly running beyond the white line on the corner’s exit.

Specifically for Bahrain, Wittich’s note also adds, “each time a driver fails to respect track limits at the entry or exit of Turn 15 [the final corner], will result in that lap time and the immediately following lap time being invalidated by the stewards”.

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