The 18:00 (15:00 GMT) start time means that track temperatures fall dramatically as the race goes on.
The granite-based asphalt is rough and abrasive, which increases tire wear.
Sand can often blow onto the surface from the surrounding desert, affecting grip.
There are a number of slow corners where good traction is crucial, so the track is rear-limited.
At the same time, there are four fast straights, so a versatile compromise set-up is required.
Safety cars rarely affect strategy: there have only been two in the 12-year history of the race.
The Three Nominated Compounds
White medium: a low working range compound that is one of the most versatile in the range.
Yellow soft: a high working range compound with the accent on performance.
Red supersoft: a low working range compound that is rapid but with a limited overall life.
A Year Ago
Winner: Hamilton (two stops: started on soft, changed to soft on lap 15, medium on lap 33).
Best-placed alternative strategy: Raikkonen, second (also stopping twice, but starting on soft, changing to medium on lap 17, then soft on lap 40).
There were a mixture of two and three-stoppers. Vettel was fifth, with an unscheduled three-stopper (final stop to replace a nosecone and take on new tires)
Paul Hembery: "The new tire regulations for 2016 proved to be a big success, providing many different strategy options and talking points for all the teams in Australia. Bahrain is a very different type of circuit, with tire behavior affected by a big drop in temperature as the race goes on. This provides a different set of challenges and parameters, so it will be interesting to see who has learned most from Australia in order to take best advantage of another new situation. There are some quite diverse choices from the teams, which will play a key role in the race outcome."