The first night race of the 2017 season is upon us as the F1 juggernaut arrives at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir with everyone waiting to see the outcome of the next chapter of the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. The event will begin on Friday, April 14, and conclude on Sunday with the final Grand Prix race.
The Mercedes and Ferrari duo are locked on top of the drivers' championship after taking one win apiece in the first two races of the season in Australia and China. The Italian team look like genuine contenders this season, and Vettel is leading the charge, ready to take the fight to the dominant silver Arrows team, who were beyond reach in the last three seasons.
The two drivers, who have seven world titles between them, look to be in a class of their own at the moment and their superiority over the rest of the grid has the entire Formula One community excited about a potential epic title battle.
The Bahrain Grand Prix with its long straights and tight corners are likely to see the two teams dominate yet again. Mercedes do have the edge on single lap pace, however, the Ferrari looks better in race trim. Red Bull will hope to get back into contention sooner rather than later, but are unlikely to do so this weekend.
Due to the dusty nature of the desert track, the times will continue to improve as the weekend goes on and more rubber gets laid on the track.
Where to watch live
The first practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix starts at 12pm BST, with Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports F1 HD providing live coverage in the UK.
Real-time internet updates are available on the Live Timing section of the sport's official website.
Live coverage of the second practice session starts at 4pm BST.
- Circuit name: Bahrain International Circuit
- First F1 Race: 2004
- Circuit length: 5.412kms
- Number of laps: 57
- Race distance: 308.238 km
- Lap record: 1:31.447 Pedro De La Rosa (2005)
- Most wins: Fernando Alonso (3)
- 2016 winner: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
- 2016 pole: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Drivers' Championship review
Vettel and Hamilton are locked on top of the drivers' championship standing with 43 points after taking one win and a second place each in the opening two races of the season. The two drivers are preparing for one of the closest title battles witnessed in recent seasons and look to be in a league of their own.
Max Verstappen (25 points) is their closest challenger after a brilliant drive to third place in changing conditions in China. The Dutchman has the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas (23 points) and second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen (22 points) hot on his tail.
Daniel Ricciardo (12 points) is lagging behind a little in sixth place owing to his non-finish at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. The Australian has Carlos Sainz (10 points) for company after the Spaniard put in a strong drive in China.
Force India driver Esteban Ocon continued his good start to the season and recorded his second consecutive points scoring finish after he again grabbed the final point at the Shanghai international circuit.
Constructors' Championship review
It was for the first time since 2013 that Mercedes went into the second race of the season without the lead in both the championships. However after Hamilton's in China, the reigning champions have taken the lead in the constructors' race albeit by just one point from the resurgent Ferrari (65 points) team.
Red Bull Racing (37 points) are in third place but are already falling behind. However, lack of form from Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas could help them get back in the race. Toro Rosso (12 points) are trying to establish themselves as the front-runners amongst the midfield teams and are currently in fourth place, two points ahead of Force India and four ahead of Williams, who were tipped to be the best of the rest this season. Haas (4 points) are in seventh place with Renault, Sauber and McLaren below them yet to score a point this season.