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Bahrain Grand Prix preview quotes 28 Mar 2008

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari on the grid.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 23 March 2008 Timo Glock (GER) Toyota on the drivers parade.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Race Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 23 March 2008 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 VJM01 on the grid.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 23 March 2008 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Race Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 23 March 2008 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 20 March 2008

The Bahrain International Circuit is a hot and dusty proposition but the drivers can’t wait to get back in the cockpit for the Sakhir race, which is a true test for men and machinery alike…

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2007 Qualifying - 3rd, 2007 Race - 3rd

“I have finished third in three successive Grands Prix in Bahrain. Time and again something has gone wrong. Sakhir is one of those circuits where I really want to win. Finally. Obviously, we should have speed enough to fight for the top place in Bahrain, too. I have a good touch with that circuit and Ferrari has traditionally been strong there.

“Obviously, our test in February does not harm us. But, of course, now it is different weather, different circuit and, obviously, our car is different, too. We have improved our car after the Bahrain test, so it should be better there. But the competitors are not far behind. All the teams know the place. That's for sure.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2007 Qualifying - 10th, 2007 Race - 10th

“I’m really looking forward to this weekend. Bahrain is one of my favourite tracks and I’ve had some great results there. Last year, we didn’t get the best out of the weekend, but we’ve learnt from that and we’ll be better this year, and we will come back stronger after the struggles in Malaysia. The track and asphalt surface of the Sakhir circuit are more suited to our car so we shouldn’t encounter the same problems again.

“As a whole, it’s been quite an extreme start to the season. We had a very strong start and then a bit of a down, but that’s the way it is in racing and you just have to get on with it. We’ve already learnt a lot from the past two races and we will make progress going into these next few races. I’ll be at home in between Malaysia and Bahrain so I can relax and do some training.”

Kazuki Nakajima,Williams
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA

“We’ve had a bit of a mixed start to our season. The race in Melbourne was obviously very good, and then Malaysia was not so good for us. We’ve learnt lessons from both Grands Prix and I'll be doing my best to help get the team back to where we think we should be.

“Personally, I think that the track in Bahrain is really good. It’s a great circuit for racing because there are a few opportunities to overtake, so I'm looking forward to having a good race there.”

Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“Set against the desert, Bahrain’s track is normally quite dusty and it’s always hot. Ambient temperatures hover around the mid 30s and the chance of rainfall is low. The track’s layout is dominated by long straights and slow and medium speed corners. There is only really one high speed section, but it doesn’t bear much influence over the set-up direction of the car.

“Bridgestone will bring the medium and soft tyre compounds to this race. Most teams opt for a two stop pitstop strategy, although a one stop option has been employed there before.

“We have two targets for the Bahrain Grand Prix; firstly to improve upon the reliability which caused us problems during practice at the previous two races and, secondly, to build on our Constructors’ position by scoring more points.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2007 Qualifying - 9th, 2007 Race - 7th

"The main topic in Bahrain is obviously braking because there is a lot of hard braking at the end of the long straights and to have a competitive car you need good braking stability. With the high temperatures as well, the brakes are really under stress. Top speed is also very important at this track because of the long straights and our challenge on Friday will be to find a set-up which gives high top speed and also suitable downforce for the corners. I had a fantastic result in Malaysia, which was great for the whole team, so we are all very motivated and looking forward to the next race. It will not be easy to repeat the result we had in Malaysia; we will need another perfect weekend, but we have shown that the new car is a big improvement and we are able to challenge for the top six. We had a productive test in Bahrain in February so I expect to be competitive and score more points."

Timo Glock, Toyota
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA

"It is very disappointing that I have not finished a race yet for Toyota but I hope that will change in Bahrain. The accident in Malaysia was unfortunate and it stopped me fighting for points, which I am sure I could have done. However, I prefer to look forward and I am still positive, especially after qualifying in the top 10 for both races so far. The test in Bahrain last month went well and the information we got from that should help us a bit this weekend, even if the temperature seems likely to be quite a bit hotter than when we were last there. The car has also improved quite a bit since that test but there is still work to do to adjust it to my driving style. Obviously my first target is to finish the race after my bad luck in the first two races but I think I can again reach Q3 and hopefully finish in the top eight for the first time with Toyota."

Pascal Vasselon, Toyota’s senior general manager chassis
"After Jarno's great result in Malaysia we are all looking forward to the Bahrain Grand Prix with cautious optimism. We know better what to expect this weekend because we tested in Bahrain over the winter. I was very pleased with the progress we made there; the track is an interesting combination of slow-speed traction and high-speed corners, so we were able to a lot of good work on set-up. We did a lot of laps for reliability assessment and in our race simulation we looked reasonably competitive considering that our race one package was not available at that time. What was particularly satisfying about our pace in Malaysia was that our level of competitiveness was in line with our expectations after pre-season testing and I expect us to build on this. The result in Malaysia gave the whole team a lift and we expect another strong result this weekend."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 7th, 2007 Race - 8th

“I enjoy the Bahrain Grand Prix. It is a good track with a long straight that can be very enjoyable if you have a good engine, which we do. There are of course a couple of tricky corners and it is very demanding on brakes, so it proves to be a good challenge.

“My aims will same as in Malaysia: I want to complete the full distance and improve the race pace if we can, although in Sepang our lap times were already pretty competitive. The VJM01 feels well balanced, even if we know there is more to come from it. Hopefully with the new improvements in Bahrain we will be able to investigate some more set up options and should be able to get rid of the understeer that plagued us in Sepang.

“I think we can also try to get into Q2, but this always depends on us getting the perfect lap and maybe one of the others making a mistake - it's very close racing this year, particularly with Toro Rosso and Honda, and I think this battle will continue for the rest of the season.

“In Malaysia we were fighting hard with these two teams and were very close in lap times, especially with Rubens. I think to beat him we need to have a good strategy, but now we know what we have to do, we can look into it in Bahrain. With the race pace we have we can take some risks with the strategies until we know what suits us best. I am looking forward to it.”

Adrian Sutil, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 20th, 2007 Race - 15th

“In Bahrain you need to be quite quick in a straight line, and the teams will be quite close together, but I think with the new upgrades we have in Bahrain we will be much closer than ever to the other teams. It's mainly a hairpin circuit, a few quick chicanes but mainly second gear corners, so it should suit us a bit better.

“I think we will be close to reaching second qualifying again. We saw in both Melbourne and Malaysia that Giancarlo was close, and it will be similar again I hope. I feel I've been unlucky in qualifying, and then of course in the race, but I am confident that we won't have the same problem again. I just need to have the opportunity to finish to show what we can really do. We saw in Melbourne that my first lap was very good and the car is more competitive than last year, for sure. I'm looking forward to racing again and getting my first finish of the year.”

Colin Kolles, Force India team principal
“I am particularly looking forward to the Bahrain Grand Prix after such a strong showing in the first two races of the year. Although the results do not ultimately show the full progress we have made, the improvement we demonstrated in Australia and Malaysia from this time last year emphasises the fact we are heading in the right direction.

“Our aims for this race have to be to get into Q2 and achieve a double finish. This is, I believe, a realistic goal as we have new aero parts for this race that should give another improvement and I am confident we have addressed the reliability issues on Adrian's car.

“Giancarlo did a fantastic job in Malaysia and hopefully should be rewarded with a position in Q2 in Bahrain and a good result on Sunday. Adrian was unlucky in the first two races but I am sure that in this next event he will have the opportunity to show his real potential.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2007 Qualifying - 4th, 2007 Race - 5th

“I do have happy memories (of Bahrain) because I won there in 2005 and 2006 with Renault. It is an unusual circuit because of the sand that can be blown onto the track and so driving the car can feel quite strange. You never really know what the track conditions will be like from one corner to another, and sometimes you can be taken by surprise. The temperatures are also high in Bahrain, but after hot races in Melbourne and Sepang, we are already used to this.

“Sakhir is renowned as a circuit that is demanding on the brakes. The wear can be very significant and it is an aspect that we have to pay attention to, especially in the race so that we can be sure that we do not have a problem that will cost us any positions. From the first free practice session on Friday, this will be something that we will keep in mind.

“We don't know yet exactly where we stand, although we know that we are behind Ferrari, McLaren and BMW. Reaching Q3 is not easy and so scoring points in the race is also difficult. But we have scored points in the first couple of races and I think that is what we must aim for again this weekend in Bahrain. We must try and take advantage of the slightest opportunity that comes our way and each race must be seen as a way for us to progress.”

Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA

“To be honest (Bahrain) is not one of my favourites. But I do know the circuit and that is certainly an advantage for me. I will be able to start working on improving the set-up of the car with my engineers as soon as the practice sessions begin, rather than having to learn the circuit. That will allow me to approach my weekend more calmly.

“My goal is to be in the points. That was my target in Malaysia but unfortunately I was not in a position to do it on that occasion. Fernando has finished in the points twice in the first two races, and so I would like to follow this and score some important points for the team. I think that we can aim for seventh and eighth places and we must be ready to take any opportunities that present themselves. I think that the race will probably be eventful, a bit like Melbourne, with the drivers making mistakes more easily as a result of the new regulations and the absence of driver aids.”

Pat Symonds, Renault technical director
“There are a lot of similarities between the first three circuits, and particularly between Malaysia and Bahrain where the general set-up of the car is not that different. I think that Malaysia was a reasonably straightforward race where, with the possible exception of Williams, we saw everyone's true colours, and I don't think that the conditions of Bahrain are sufficiently different to alter the status quo that has been established. So I see us being part of this very tight bunch of teams with everything to play for, and the ability to be at the front or the back of that bunch with very there being very little in it. We managed to be in that bunch in Malaysia and I expect the same in Bahrain, which means that points will be the target and I'd love to see both drivers through to Q3. But I know that is not going to be easy because that is the nature of the competitiveness at the moment.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 15th, 2007 Race - 13th

“The first three flyaway races of the season are very demanding for the drivers from a physical perspective as the ambient temperatures are usually high in the 30s. I am well prepared, with an intensive fitness regime to ensure that I am in peak condition ready for the start of the season. The races in Australia and Malaysia have provided a good build-up to the intense dry heat that we can expect in Bahrain next week. I am not anticipating that the heat will cause any issues for me or the car.

"The first two races of the season have been very encouraging for the team and I have been pleased with how the car has performed, particularly that I have completed both races in the very tough conditions. Malaysia was a challenge for me after losing the practice running on Saturday, compromising my race set-up, but overall the RA108 has proven to be competitive and shown good race performance.”

Jenson Button, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 16th, 2007 Race - DNF

“I'm a big fan of Bahrain as a country and I also really enjoy the circuit as there are some great fast flowing sections where you can really push the car. Confidence under braking is the key to a quick lap. You have to believe in the car's performance and have full confidence that you can stop effectively. There are several overtaking opportunities, particularly at Turn One after the long straight, where you can make up crucial ground as people tend to brake surprisingly early. The most challenging sector is probably Turn 14 which has a very quick approach where you brake as you turn into the corner, so you have to be careful not to lock the inside front wheel. The sand blowing onto the tarmac can be a challenge as you never know how the grip levels will change.”

“With no opportunity for testing since the season began, we will be using the data gathered in Australia and Malaysia to maximise our performance at what will be another very hot race in Bahrain. I'm hopeful that we will be knocking on the door of the top ten in qualifying once again.”

Ross Brawn, Honda team principal
"The race in Malaysia last weekend showed that the Honda team continues to make steady improvements on our pre-season form. I was particularly pleased to see both cars finish the race reliably and encouraged by the performance of the car and our drivers in achieving the maximum possible from the weekend. The race gave us a very accurate reflection of the RA108's position relative to its competitors and provided valuable data with which to continue the development of the car ahead of the European season.

“The first two races have established that the RA108 is capable of competing strongly in the midfield pack and is close to breaking into the top ten runners. To score points however, we need to over-achieve on our current level of performance. Whilst we will aim for this in Bahrain, the European season when our next developments arrive, is a more realistic target. Following our encouraging start to the season, the spirit in the team is very good and we are all confident that we continue to make progress over the next few weeks.”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 2nd, 2007 Race - 2nd

“Bahrain is a really cool circuit; it is quite different to any other because you are literally driving round the desert. There are no trees or buildings as you are driving round, just desert. I really like the track, there are a lot of opportunities to overtake for example turns one, four, seven, and ten. With all the straights you can do a lot of slipstreaming and then make sure you get good exits. So in terms of racing it is a very good track. The layout is a great design, starting off with a very long straight, then down to a very tight first gear corner and then you accelerate through a slight kink before going up another long straight. It is a curvy circuit with lots of kinks and gradient changes that are quite large in some areas. Also the wind plays a big part bringing sand onto the track that means any part that is off line is very slippery. It is very hot in Bahrain, as with Australia and Malaysia, so it is ideal that these three are together at the beginning as they are all very physically demanding and you can prepare for them all at one time.

“I love the Bahrain race, it is one of the ones I really look forward too, like Monaco and Spa. I have a lot of good memories of the track, last year I had a fantastic race. It was great fun and I took my third podium in Formula One and took the joint lead of the world championship, it was a bit unreal. The best memory is from 2004, I recovered from a disastrous qualifying in F3, and I ended up in 23rd. I worked my way back up the grid to win the race. That was one of the most emotional races I had been involved in up to that point.”

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 12th, 2007 Race - 9th

"The most obvious thing is that the sand makes the grip level lower and the tyres do not bite to the tarmac quite as well and it can be slippery in places. The track evolution also is quite high at Bahrain because when we start driving round the track, the sand flies away. It also puts some more stress on the engines, as there can be some dust in the air that goes into the engine. The weather is also quite changeable, and I guess this can happen very quickly because we are in the desert. It is quite tough on the tyres. There are some hard braking areas and high speed chicanes where you are changing the direction at high speed, that always loads the tyres. We need to be aware of that and look after our tyres as much as we can over the weekend. It will be a key factor during the race.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Formula One CEO
“The nature of the Bahrain International Circuit is very similar to Canada. Consequently it’s tough on brakes as there are some big stops at the end of the high speed turns, which makes things exciting from an overtaking point of view, but is extremely tough on the cars. In addition the lack of key features around the track means that the drivers really have to concentrate on their braking points as traditionally they use landmarks to pick them.

“Of course we would have liked to test in Bahrain but we do have to prioritise where we spend our time. Over the winter we have improved the aerodynamic efficiency of the car and cooling generally so it’s not currently one of our vulnerable points. We have good data from running at the Bahrain track in previous years so we are confident it will not prove too much of a disadvantage.”

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“We expect another race in high ambient temperatures and with similar challenges like Australia and Malaysia. The sand blown onto the track consistently is a typical characteristic of the Bahrain International Circuit; it often suddenly changes the grip conditions. The engines’ air filters are even more thoroughly checked and more often changed than usual to avoid the intrusion of sand particles. Due to the track layout with four long straights followed by tight corners each, the engines’ load profile is in the medium range. About two thirds of a lap on the 5.4km circuit will be run under full throttle.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 5th, 2007 Race - 4th

“I really like the track layout and the whole complex in Bahrain. Everything there is very modern and spacious. For me one of the best sections of the entire season is the stretch between Turn Five and the penultimate turn at the Bahrain International Circuit. The climate tends to be pleasant there, although being in the middle of the desert means that sand keeps blowing onto the track and into our equipment. Last year we came very well prepared after our double test there, and I had a great race. This year some of the teams tested their new cars there before the start of the season. On Friday our first priority is to close this gap through our set-up work.”

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 6th, 2007 Race - 6th

“I'm looking forward to the race in Bahrain, for one thing because last year it was where I picked up my first points of the 2007 season, and for another because we have had a strong start to the season in Australia and Malaysia. The circuit in Bahrain is quite different from Melbourne and Sepang. It has long straights with hard braking zones. Plus there are hardly any fast turns. The wind could play a major role here, but I hope it isn't too strong because our car reacts quite sensitively. Of course we'll have to just see how the F1.08 performs on this circuit, but I'm confident that we can be very competitive here as well.”

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director
“Our bottom line after the first batch of overseas races looks pretty good: we're very happy with our two second places in Melbourne and Sepang, our first fastest race lap in Malaysia and 19 points in the championship. So, after a brief pit stop back home, we will be heading for Bahrain well motivated. We aim to keep up the same level of performance as we've shown so far.”

Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber technical director
“Our two strong performances in Australia and Malaysia confirm that we are on the right track with our development of the F1.08 and have taken a leap forward. But I wouldn't like to commit myself to any hierarchical order at the moment. For that we will have to wait for another race or two. The circuit in Bahrain features several slow turns and the very long start/finish straight with a tight chicane at the end. The track design calls for a compromise in terms of aerodynamic set-up. On the one hand the many slow corners require high downforce, on the other hand top speed is very important. Good traction also has a high priority, especially along the narrow section after the start/finish line. In Bahrain we will be driving with relatively soft tyre compounds, which plays an important role in the race strategy.”