As a result, each of the Formula One teams in Bahrain consumed up to 400 bottles of water per day.
The problem for the drivers was that the cockpit temperatures were 20 degrees up on the ambient, thanks to the heat from the engine and the in-car systems. That left them dressed in Nomex and overalls, and wearing helmets in an ‘office’ that exceeded 55 degrees.
“The heat is pretty unbelievable,” said Fernando Alonso, who celebrated his 200th F1 start in Bahrain. “The heat is at its worst on the grid, when you’re stationary and there’s no airflow coming into the car. You’re very hot and you don’t even have cold liquid to cool you down because your drinks’ bottle heats up very quickly.”
Such extreme conditions were the backdrop to a fabulous weekend of on-track action at the Bahrain International Circuit that saw Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Nico Rosberg take the team’s second successive pole position. It was the first time since 1955 that the Three Pointed Star had taken successive poles in F1, and Nico shot off at the start of the race to lead at the end of lap one.
However, Rosberg’s rear tyres didn’t enjoy the scorching conditions and he was soon looking backwards as much as forwards because he was under constant attack from behind. Some brilliant defensive driving followed, but the German could do nothing to stop the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso from passing him. Nico wasn’t helped by a 25kph headwind along the pit straight, which made the effects of DRS even more extreme.
Once out front, Vettel disappeared into an unassailable lead to become the first repeat winner of 2013. He made three pitstops for tyres during the course of the 57-lap race and he was followed home by the Lotuses of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, giving us exactly the same podium finishers as last year. Cue lots of waard (a non-alcoholic mix of rose water and pomegranate juice) being strayed on the podium.
Chinese Grand Prix winner Alonso dropped back mid-race when he was forced to make two unscheduled pitstops to mend his Ferrari’s DRS flap. He came home eighth, one place ahead of pole-sitter Rosberg, and all of the various misfortunes up and down the grid have resulted in Vettel eeking out a 10-point lead at the top of the championship table.
The cars are now returning to their respective team factories for the first time since before the start of the season. They’ll be re-built and no doubt given performance upgrades before the paddock reconvenes in the slightly cooler conditions of Barcelona for the start of the European season in three weeks time.