After the season kicked off in Melbourne two weeks ago, the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team is now heading to Bahrain for the second round of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship before next week it’s off to China as the first back to back races of the season take place.
Melbourne marked the return of the Alfa Romeo name to the F1 grid, almost three decades after it was last seen providing power to the backmarker Osella team. This time however it is back as a title sponsor, to the Sauber team, which showed little year-on-year improvement during the season opener in Australia.
Bahrain will offer a further chance to see if the Swiss team can start to make progress away from the bottom of the timesheets.
Since Melbourne the team has recruited a new head of aerodynamics, Jan Monchaux, who joins from Audi where he was covering the position of Head of Vehicle Engineering and Aerodynamics Audi Sport in the past five years.
A graduated of Supaero, the French engineering school of aeronautics and space, the French-German engineer worked his way through the ranks in Toyota Motorsport and Scuderia Ferrari.
“I’m very much looking forward to the arrival of Jan Monchaux as the new Head of Aerodynamics," Jörg Zander, Technical Director, said. "It marks an important step of a wider project that aims at strengthening and implementing the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team in line with the targets and the results we want to achieve on tracks."
The Bahrain International Circuit features key different characteristics to Melbourne and Marcus Ericsson knows the track very well and is confident for the race weekend. Charles Leclerc also knows the circuit, from competing there in Formula 2, and he has good memories on this track as last year he disputed one of the best races.
Marcus Ericsson: “Off to the first back-to-back of the year. Bahrain is a track that I know very well. I have been there a lot of times and enjoy driving on it. The track has different challenges to it, one being the sand surrounding it. Depending on the wind and weather conditions, this can become a defining factor. In the middle of the track, there is a very technical left-hand corner which is one of the most difficult ones of the season. It also offers some good overtaking opportunities which I look forward to. After seeing our potential in Australia, we are going into round 2 feeling positive.”
Charles Leclerc: “After having participated in my first Formula 1 race in Australia, I look forward to going into my second round, as I will be familiar with all of the activities taking place at the track throughout the race weekend. I’m excited to go to Bahrain. I know the track from last year when I raced there in Formula 2 and have great memories. I had one of my best races there. The track is interesting. The temperatures are very high, which is very aggressive on the tyres. This creates interesting strategies due to the degradation that takes place. Let’s see what the next race will bring.”
The Bahrain Grand Prix is one of the three races held at night, starting at dusk. As the circuit is located in the desert, the surface is usually quite dusty for the first practice session and then gathers more grip during the weekend.
Photos: Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team - 2018 FIA F1 World Championship