The third round of the Formula 1 world championship takes place this weekend in Bahrain.
It follows an action-packed Malaysian Grand Prix, which was one in dominant style by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. He will have very little time to celebrate and reflect, however, with the next race just a few days away.
The Bahrain International Circuit was the location for eight of the 12 pre-season test days this season, meaning all the teams and drivers have plenty of data, information and experience with the 2014 machines on the 3.36-mile track.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the first ever F1 race in Bahrain and to celebrate, the start time has been moved back to 6pm – making it a day-night race (like Abu Dhabi). The cars will line up on the grid with the backdrop of the setting sun and will take the checkered flag under dark skies and bright floodlights.
Conditions are always warm and dry, but the track is often slippery and grip levels are usually low at the start of the race weekend due to the location of the venue. It is in the desert, meaning sand is often blown onto the circuit, which often takes a little while to clear.
A lap of the Bahrain International Circuit starts on the long pit straight, with the pit exit to the right as the cars approach the tight, slow right-hand hairpin of turn one. The DRS zone will be positioned along here, making it a great overtaking opportunity.
The second corner is a medium-speed left-hander, with the flat-out turn three following. This right-hander leads on to another long straight that is then followed by the slow turn four hairpin. The corner is quite wide, which can encourage different lines to be taken, and two cars can easily go through it side-by-side.
The second sector starts with turns five, six and seven, which make up a fast left-right-left complex that is similar to the Maggots/Becketts/Chapel section at Silverstone. A short burst on the power follows as the cars head downhill to the right-hand hairpin of turn eight.
There is then a steep incline before the tricky turns nine and ten. Through the fast right-hander, drivers have to brake, steer and downshift through the gears for the tight turn 10 simultaneously. Having good traction is crucial here for the run on to the following straight, which is where the second DRS zone will be.
The 11th corner on the track is a medium-speed, sweeping left-hander that then leads on to the faster right of turn 12. This section of the circuit is a particular favorite with the drivers. The second sector comes to an end just prior to the braking zone for turn 13.
This medium-speed right leads on to the long 750 metre back straight. The lap ends with another slow right-hander, with a very tricky braking zone that is easy to get wrong, and the barely-there kink of turn 15. The track is quite forgiving with large tarmac run-off areas. The pit entry is to the right and can sometimes cause confusion as drivers sweep across the circuit from the racing line.
It has a relatively straightforward and unexciting layout that is very stop/start. This puts added strain on the engine and brakes, and the tires are worked hard too due to the abrasive track surface. Pirelli will bring the medium and soft compounds to the race.
Eight of the nine races to be held in Bahrain have been won by drivers on the 2014 grid. Fernando Alonso is the most successful with three victories (2005, 2006 and 2010), with Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa both registering two each. Jenson Button crossed the line in first place back in 2009 and Michael Schumacher took the first ever Bahrain Grand Prix win in 2004.
So what can we expect in 2014? Well, Mercedes will be the team to beat and the battle to be best of the rest looks tough. Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams look to be in the mix, with McLaren and Force India not far off. Elsewhere, Lotus will be hoping for a double-car finish after making progress in Malaysia, while Marussia and Caterham will want to move closer to the midfield battle.