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FIA drain issue solution set for Bahrain GP

Drain covers have been the unwanted story of testing at the Bahrain International Circuit.

red flag bahrain testing 2024
To news overview © XPBimages

The FIA looks set to fill in drains around the Bahrain International Circuit with concrete following issues during pre-season testing, RacingNews365 can confirm.

The second and final days of the sole three-day test plan have been disrupted by lengthy red-flag stoppages due to a drain lifting on the approach to Turn 11.

The forces created by the current ground-effect cars following the introduction of new aerodynamic regulations at the start of 2022 have now exposed weaknesses in two circuits over the past few months.

At the Las Vegas Grand Prix in November, Carlos Sainz's Ferrari was severely damaged after his SF-23 ran over a water valve cover around the Strip circuit, sparking a major delay.

On the second day of the test in Bahrain, Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc worked loose the Turn 11 drain, that then impacted his Scuderia team-mate for next year in Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton following immediately behind.

On his following lap, Leclerc struck the offending cover with his SF-24, damaging the car, resulting in a red flag and a 90-minute inspection delay instigated by FIA race and safety director Niels Wittich.

Just 27 minutes into the final day of running on Friday, the same drain was again pulled loose by the Red Bull of Sergio Perez, leading to another red flag and a 75-minute delay whilst a further inspection was conducted.

It resulted in the cancellation of the planned lunch break, allowing the teams to continue running their cars through to the scheduled 7pm local time conclusion.

Wittich and circuit officials will then carry out further checks over the weekend ahead of next week's Bahrain Grand Prix, with the first practice session on Thursday ahead of qualifying on Friday and race the day after.

It is almost certain the solution to be imposed will be the removal of the drain, with the hole to be filled in with concrete, and then painted over to blend in with that part of the track.

A full track inspection is also to be undertaken to ensure there are no other offending drains around the circuit, even if they have not manifested themselves over the test.

Given the incidents in Las Vegas and now in Bahrain, the FIA is now likely to thoroughly assess all of its Grade 1 circuits to ensure there is no repeat at future events.

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