Bahrain to light up for Mercedes duel

Wed Apr 2, 2014 7:47am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

MANAMA (Reuters) - The spotlights, all 5,000 of them, will be on Mercedes team mates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton on Sunday when Bahrain adds another novel twist to an already changed Formula One landscape.

The pair are one-two in the new-look championship after a win each from the first two races of the quieter-sounding, fuel-saving and less reliable V6 turbo era that started in Melbourne last month.

Neither driver has won before at the Sakhir circuit but are clear favorites to fight for the top step on the podium after their one-two finish for the Silver Arrows in Malaysia last weekend.

What would normally be a sweat in the afternoon heat, with temperatures soaring to 45 degrees Celsius, will be a cooler duel in the dark with the race switching to an evening format for the first time.

The Bahrain International Circuit, celebrating the 10th anniversary of a race that had to be canceled in 2011 due to bloody civil unrest that continues to simmer in the background, has followed Abu Dhabi in becoming a day-to-night event.

Some 500km of cabling has been installed to power the 5,000 lights needed for the Gulf kingdom's showcase sporting event.

Rosberg, who will be starting his 150th grand prix, leads the championship by 18 points but Hamilton, chasing his third pole in a row, can score an important psychological blow if he takes his second successive win.

"I've never managed to get the win (in Bahrain). Until last week it was the same story for me with Malaysia, so fingers crossed this can be the year of breaking those cycles," said the 2008 champion.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (R) drives ahead of Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during the third practice session of the Australian F1 Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne March 15, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed