Hello sim racers,
The first of our Q4 2022 content announcements is here – and we are starting off with a big one – the very first laserscanned version of the Bahrain International Circuit in rFactor 2!
Now, you may already have seen this circuit in action during the recent Virtual Le Mans opening round, however, what you haven’t been told yet is the new DLC of this track comes with a little more than ‘just’ the main variation – that’s right, in this new release we are packing together not one, but four different configurations of the track for you to enjoy within rFactor 2!
The new DLC, available as part of the Q4 2022 content release for the simulation, will include the Bahrain International Circuit, the Endurance layout, the Outer Loop and the Paddock configuration – four very different challenges, and four unique tracks that we are sure you will enjoy in all of their laserscanned glory this November!
An FIA Grade 1 listed track, the Bahrain International Circuit is one of the most imposing and impressive facilities on the current Formula One schedule, as well as a significant venue for the world of GT and endurance racing. With the rich, if somewhat short pedigree as a premium racing location, it made perfect sense for us here at Studio 397 to pursue a licence agreement for the track, and now, thanks to the hard work and development efforts of the rFactor 2 track team, we are delighted to be able to bring the very first fully laserscanned version of this impressive track to a modern racing simulation.
Having initially been commissioned by Bahrain Motor Sport Federation honorary President, Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, to become the home of the first Middle Eastern Formula One Grand Prix, famed circuit architect Hermann Tilke elected to develop in the middle of previously unoccupied desert land, allowing the German engineer scope to create a circuit without restrictions – resulting in what many regard to be one of his finest creations in modern motorsport.
So, at 5.412 km and featuring 15 turns, how about we take a look at the beautiful Grand Prix layout in a little more detail…
The first corner at Bahrain is a big braking event as cars approach at near maximum velocity, with a difficult right-hander the initial obstacle to overcome for the driver. Although technically this could be considered a recipe for a strong overtaking opportunity, with such proximity to T2, and the need to set the car up for the next part of the circuit, often times it is better for a chasing driver to hold their line and consider a pass further around the circuit, making this first turn a little bit more detailed and complex to negotiate that would ordinarily be the case for a corner of this type.
T2 & T3
T2 is another one of those corners that appears quite simple of paper, but in reality is a much more difficult proposition to get right in a racing environment. Having used the exit of the first corner to bring the car almost fully to the right of the racetrack, here we try to swing the car into the left hand apex of T2 while balancing the inevitable desire for the car to wander to the outside of the turn and too far over onto the difficult corner exit curbing. Often the car will feel slightly unstable here, and should you get this corner wrong, or require too much corrective action on the wheel, you will be significantly compromised on exit speed into the following straight and the run into T3.
Here we have another big stop preceded by a fast straight, however much like the majority of corners here at Bahrain, this isn’t quite as straightforward as would be desired. Approached at speed, the key to T3 is to keep minimum speeds as high as possible through the apex, as the corner opens up significantly on exit and allows the car to power through the turn aggressively before entering the sweeping left / right / left of the T5, 6 and 7 complex of corners.
Probably one of the most satisfying sections of corners around the Bahrain International Circuit, the sweeping complex of turns that make up turns 5, 6 and 7 are often cited as critical to the overall effectiveness of the lap – as well as having a big impact on the tyre durability and balance as the car progresses through the stint phase over longer running. Approached at speed for the initial left hand kink of five, drivers begin to shed speed during this phase of the section as they shuffle the nose of the car into the right-hander of 6, aggressively using the curb on the inside of the corner to help extend the track surface area and allow earlier application of throttle, before again committing the car into the sweep of left of 7 and hard onto the power for the short run into the next big braking event of the lap, turn 8.
Slightly detached in terms of distance, but still part of the earlier sequence at T5, 6 and 7 – turn 8 is a large braking zone that requires drivers to shed considerable speed on one of the tightest corners of the circuit. Slightly bumpy of corner entry, here it is critical to ensure you clear up any imbalance as early as possible, in order to facilitate a hard acceleration from the turn and onto the next long straight and run down into turns 9 and 10 – another interlinked and challenging combination of corners.
Turn 9 is classified as a corner at Bahrain, however it would only be fair to consider 9 and 10 as one single section when it comes to driving this outstanding circuit. Scene of many a locked inside front wheel, and certainly one of the most difficult parts of the circuit, the 9 and 10 corner complex is not for the faint of heart. Approached at high speed following the exit of T8 and run down the short straight, drivers have to use corner 9 as a turning and braking section in order to shed speed for the very tight T10, juggling both an uneven track surface and quite steep downhill gradient, making this braking event, and the complexity of balancing attack and patience, one of the biggest challenges of the lap. To make matters even more complex, immediately after these corners comes one of the longest straights of the lap – so get this wrong, and the price to pay is significant.
Turn 11 is a very fast left-hander that immediately joins up with the swooping T12 – in the right car, with enough downforce, one can carry significant speed into 11 with confidence that the car will stick and offer enough grip to pull back across the circuit and prepare for the approach into 12.
Here at turn 12, drivers have to consider this and T13 as part of the same section of circuit. Twelve is a quick corner in its own right, rapidly followed by the approach down into the difficult turn 13. Quite bumpy and almost flat out in the right car, turn 12 is very much a case of preparation for what is to follow, with most drivers merely looking through this turn as they contemplate the best way to place the car as we prepare for yet another important part of the overall lap here at Bahrain.
Likely to be one of the most decisive corners in terms of overall lap time at Bahrain, Turn 13 is crucial thanks to the huge straight that immediately follows this corner – get 13 wrong, and wave goodbye to tenths of a second on the run down into the penultimate corner of the lap.
Almost back to the start finish straight now – T14 is another one of these corners where the driver approaches at considerable speed from the preceding straight, only this time, in combination with T15, in order to extract the most available lap time you need to be aggressive with not just the raised inside curb, but also on corner exit, maximizing the full width of available circuit whilst working hard to keep the car stable, and not fall foul of potential track limit infringements and ruin the good work you have put in up to this point. Not an easy task, much like the rest of Bahrain, but seriously satisfying for those who get it right.
Another great addition to the growing list of rFactor 2 official laserscanned circuits, we certainly hope you enjoy this one when it releases in November – we expect this will quickly become one of the most popular tracks on the (virtual) endurance racing calendar!
Stay tuned to the Studio 397 website and rFactor 2 social media channels in the coming days and weeks, as we begin to reveal what is coming your way as part of the November 2022 update and content release for rFactor 2.
Bahrain International Circuit – Coming soon to rFactor 2!