The F1 circus is heading to Bahrain. Like most races the team will arrive before us to set everything up and for everyone involved in F1 a double header with Bahrain and China is always tough. It’s a very quick turnaround on Sunday night after the race to get everything packed and shipped to China.
I like the race in Bahrain, have some great friends there and think it’s much better now as an evening race. Firstly, more people can attend as Sunday in the Middle East is a working day (which adds massively to the atmosphere seeing more people in the grandstands) and secondly it creates a more relaxed feeling as the mornings aren’t super early and rushed.
We stay at the Sofitel hotel in Bahrain which is a 10-minute drive from the track. The timings over the weekend allow for a more relaxed start to the day (unlike the following race in China). There is time to train, time to eat and time to relax a bit before heading to the track. The other advantage for me, due to the majority of the driving takes place in the evening, is the temperatures are lower making it easier with regards managing hydration. Hydration plays a huge role in performance not just for the drivers but for everyone in F1 and at the hotter races it is something that needs to be managed correctly. It doesn’t matter how well hydrated the driver is, if the guys in the pit crew are suffering from the ill effects of dehydration, which can cause a reduction in cognitive skills, focus and concentration, mistakes can be made and positions easily lost. So, all the teams must focus on this.
What is interesting when managing hydration with athletes is their perception. In hotter climates an athlete is very aware of the need to stay hydrated. Consequently, they focus on it. By contrast in cooler climates they don’t think dehydration will be so much of an issue, therefore it’s not a focus and dehydration can actually be worse.
When it comes to training whist on the road for me a big plus is knowing the facilities that await us. The Sofitel is a great hotel but the gym, like in many hotels, is small and a bit of an afterthought. In the mornings it’s packed with drivers, trainers and team guys taking advantage of a more relaxed morning schedule. As such it’s like being at the track and way too crammed. Thankfully there are lots of other training options available by using the grassy areas on the hotel ground, the beach area or some of the structures next to the beach. There are also plenty of palm trees to wrap a band around or options to hang up a TRX.
Training on the road successfully always requires an element of pre-planning! Knowing what the options are before you travel and what might be good to take with you helps a lot when trying to maintain your training.
Bahrain from a race point of view for me comes with one distinct advantage, I don’t need an umbrella on the grid (no rain and no sun). It’s always a juggling act with a drinks bottle, umbrella and fan. Saying that it will probably now rain 😉
When we first started racing at flood lit tracks one issue that came up was which type of visor should we use and will a wet track (more a question in Singapore) create a lot of glare. This was more a case of trial and error to see which worked best. We tried clear, light smoked (medium) and a visor that would get less tinted as the light dropped. In the end a light smoked visor worked well. I always carry spare helmets to the grid. In Bahrain again, my life is made easier as I only need to carry one spare helmet prepped to the same speck as the race helmet.
Bahrain has always been a good race for us in the past so let’s hope for more of the same this time round.