In the first race to have as many as 87 laps in almost 50 years, Hamilton will not take part for the first time in 265 races, and Fittipaldi becomes the first grandson of a former driver to race in F1. Here are the milestones and the records which could be broken at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix!
This will be the 1,034th World Championship Formula 1 race, the first Sakhir Grand Prix and the seventeenth round of the championship held at Bahrain International Circuit.
The 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix will mark the first time that Formula 1 has held two consecutive night races.
The 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix will be the first race to have as many as 87 laps since the 1973 Argentine Grand Prix, where the drivers toured the circuit 96 times. There have been two previous rounds of the championship which have featured 87 laps: the 1954 Argentine Grand Prix and the 1957 Italian Grand Prix. Only 63 F1 races have had more than 87 laps.
Bahrain becomes the eighth country to host two consecutive rounds of the F1 World Championship, as well as the ninth country to have hosted two rounds of the World Championship in a single season. Read more: Consecutive F1 Races Held in the Same Country.
The 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix will be held on the Outer Circuit layout of the Bahrain International Circuit. This will be the third different track layout used in Bahrain. Aside from the usual layout, the Endurance Layout was also used in 2010. This marks the first time F1 has raced on two different layouts of the same track on consecutive weekends.
This will be the 75th dead rubber race in Formula 1 history. Read more: F1’s Dead Rubber Races.
The major news ahead of the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix is that Lewis Hamilton will not take part due to testing positive for coronavirus. This will be the first race which Hamilton will not start since the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix, ending a record streak of 265 consecutive starts. It will also be the first race in which no eventual seven-time World Champion has competed since the 1999 European Grand Prix and the first race in which no drivers with the surname Schumacher or Hamilton have appeared on the grid since the 1994 Portuguese Grand Prix.
This will be the first race which the active World Champion will not start since the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix; which was a result of Nico Rosberg retiring at the end of the 2016 season.
Hamilton becomes the first driver to not enter every race in a season in which a driver has won the World Championship since Michael Schumacher in 1994, and the first driver to not start every race in a season in which a driver has won the World Championship since Fernando Alonso in 2005.
As a result of testing positive for coronavirus, Hamilton misses out on the chance to extend his personal best of wins in a season, and can no longer set a new record for most wins in a year in 2020. It also ends his streak of five consecutive Grand Prix victories.
George Russell will take Lewis Hamilton’s seat at Mercedes this weekend. He’ll become the twelfth different driver to have raced for Mercedes in Formula 1.
Mercedes 226th Grand Prix start in World Championship history will be the first time that the team has started a race without a World Champion in one of their cars.
Following his crash on the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean will miss the Sakhir Grand Prix. This will be the first race which Grosjean will not enter since the 2012 Italian Grand Prix and the first which he will not start since the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Grosjean will be replaced by Pietro Fittipaldi, who makes his Formula 1 debut. He will be the 31st Brazilian driver to start a Formula 1 race; the first to do so since Felipe Massa at the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It will be the 792nd Grand Prix which a Brazilian driver has started.
Pietro Fittipaldi will be the fourth member of the Fittipaldi family to race in Formula 1. The last was Christian Fittipaldi at the 1994 Australian Grand Prix. This will be the first time that four members of the same family have raced in F1. As the grandson of Emerson Fittipaldi, Pietro Fittipaldi is the first grandson of a former driver to partake in a Formula 1 race. The last F1 race to have as many as 87 laps was won by Emerson Fittipaldi.
Jack Aitken will replace George Russell at Williams for the Sakhir Grand Prix weekend. He will be the 145th British driver to start a Formula 1 race and the 55th driver to start a Grand Prix for Williams.
Aitken and Fittipaldi will be the 766th and 767th drivers to start a round of the World Championship since it was formed in 1950. The 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix will mark the first time multiple drivers have made their F1 debut in the same race since the 2019 Australian Grand Prix. It’s also the first time that two drivers have made their debut at the same non-season-opening race since the 2001 Italian Grand Prix, when both Tomáš Enge and Alex Yoong made their debuts.
While Fittipaldi becomes the first driver named Pietro to race in F1, Aitken will be the first driver named Jack to race in F1 since Jack Brabham at the 1970 Mexican Grand Prix.
Fittipaldi will race with the number 51 at the Sakhir Grand Prix, which will be the first time the number has been used in a race since the 1977 Japanese Grand Prix, when the number appeared on Noritake Takahara’s car. The number was last used on a car at the 1980 United States Grand Prix, when Geoff Lees failed to qualify. Aitken will race with the number 89, marking the first time this number has been used in a Grand Prix. 89 was used a number of times in the Indianapolis 500 between 1950 and 1960, and once by David Murray at the 1951 German Grand Prix – but he failed to qualify.
At the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, Haas will equal the number of races started by the Ensign team. Ensign started 99 races, with their last appearance being at the 1982 Italian Grand Prix.
THE RECORDS TO BREAK
The Outer Circuit layout of the Bahrain International Circuit is expected to produce the shortest lap times in F1 history. The current record for the shortest qualifying lap time in F1 is 58.790 seconds, set by Niki Lauda at the 1974 French Grand Prix.
Mercedes could equal the record for most team wins in Bahrain this weekend. They recorded their fifth win in the country last weekend, and could equal Ferrari’s record of six this weekend. Mercedes could also overtake Ferrari’s record of most podium finishes in Bahrain this weekend. Ferrari have had fourteen top three finishes at the Bahrain International Circuit so far, compared to Mercedes’ thirteen.
If George Russell scores this weekend, he would be only the third driver to score his first points after making 36 or more appearances. Nicola Larini and Jonathan Palmer are the only drivers who made more race starts before scoring for the first time.
Furthermore, if Russell wins the Sakhir Grand Prix, he would be the first driver to score his first career points in F1 by winning a race since Giancarlo Baghetti did so in the 1961 French Grand Prix. Russell would be only the tenth driver to achieve this in World Championship history, and only the fourth to do so in a race which was not the Indianapolis 500.
If George Russell is out-qualified by Valtteri Bottas, it will end a 36 race streak of Russell out-qualifying his team-mate. Russell’s streak currently stands as the equal third longest such streak in F1 history. If Russell out-qualifies Bottas, he’d move up to third in that list, overtaking Nelson Piquet’s streak of out-qualifying his team-mate at 36 consecutive races between 1979 and 1982.
Ferrari and Mercedes are currently tied as the engine manufacturers with the most wins in Bahrain. A win for either engine would be a new record.
A win for a British driver would be the 300th Grand Prix win for the nation. Britain would be the first nation to reach the milestone.
If either Red Bull driver qualifies on the front row, the team would become the sixth to have had a car appear on the front row at 100 Grands Prix. So far, there have been 99 races where a Red Bull driver has appeared on the front row; most recently Max Verstappen at the Turkish Grand Prix.
If Pietro Fittipaldi or Jack Aitken score a point this weekend, they will be the first driver to score on debut since Stoffel Vandoorne at the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix.
A Q3 appearance for Pietro Fittipaldi or Jack Aitken would make them only the eighth driver to have reached Q3 on their F1 debut. The other drivers who have done so are Robert Kubica, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Kevin Magnussen, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.
Kimi Raikkonen could become the first driver to have raced 800 Grand Prix laps at the Bahrain International Circuit this weekend. Raikkonen will do so if he completes eighteen laps of the race.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its sixth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and GPDestinations. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast.