Statistics for Sunday’s season-opening Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Sakhir circuit: Lap distance: 5.412km. Total distance: 308.238km (57 laps)
2022 winner: Charles Leclerc (Monaco) Ferrari 2022 pole: Leclerc. One minute 30.558 seconds
2022 fastest race lap: Leclerc, 1:34.570. Lap record: 1:31.447 seconds, Pedro de la Rosa (Spain), McLaren 2005.
Start time: 1500 GMT (1800 local) BAHRAIN
The race, on the site of a former camel farm south of the capital Manama, is now in its 19th edition after starting in 2004 as the first grand prix in the Middle East. It was not held in 2011 due to social unrest. The track offers one of the most abrasive surfaces of the season and tyre degradation is high.
Hamilton is the most successful driver at the race with five wins at Sakhir, all with Mercedes. Fernando Alonso, now at Aston Martin, has won three times. Ferrari have won the Bahrain GP seven times.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez took his first F1 win, in his 190th start, at Sakhir in 2020 while with Force India (now Aston Martin). RACE WINS
Seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton has a record 103 career victories from 310 starts but is chasing his first since 2021. POLE POSITION
Hamilton also has a record 103 career poles from 310 starts. OPENER
Verstappen has yet to win a season-opening race or the Bahrain GP. DEBUTS
Logan Sargeant (U.S.) at Williams and Oscar Piastri at McLaren are the two debutants. AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries is also a rookie but has one race to his credit as stand-in last year for Alex Albon at Monza. Piastri will be the 15th Australian to race in the sport.
Sargeant is the first American since Alex Rossi in 2015 to race in F1 and will be the first to do a full season since Scott Speed at Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) in 2006.
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