Ferrari fired up, McLaren declared legal 12 Mar 2010
Thursday was highly significant for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship: It was the last day on which the true form for the year remained unclear. As of Friday, and the first practice sessions, we should finally begin to get some idea of the real pecking order.
And while neither Felipe Massa nor Fernando Alonso was turning cartwheels it was clear that both Ferrari men have great hopes for a really strong start to their title campaigns.
"Testing is okay but it is just preparation for the race itself, so Im looking forward to Sunday," the Alonso said.
"I think every time you change team you need to adapt yourself a little bit to the new people, the new philosophy of working, of preparing the season. It has been a great time so far. I have been very comfortable with the team from day one to now, so I think we arrive at the first race with a good preparation and ready for the fight.
"We are not comparing too much the times in winter or making many predictions for these first races. We have just been concentrating on our programme to try to be as prepared a possible for the first race. I think the four teams - Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari - any of the four teams can be a favourite for this race and for the first part of the championship with, I am sure, some teams also like Sauber and Force India, they will have a very good race as well. I think we will do our best.
"We are well prepared for this start of the season but we want to be world champions in November, not in March. We will do our best but the goal is to win the championship and we know this is not easy at all and we need to work very hard for 10 months, so it is only the start."
Team mate Massa looks relaxed and fit, and is raring to go into his first race meeting as a driver since Hungary last July.
"It is a long time," he said of the hiatus since his eye injury sustained in qualifying there. "I am looking forward to getting back to racing, to starting in a good direction after not many tests. But it is nice to be back racing.
"I think it is something that we understood in the past that the first race is important to finish, important to score points. Even in the last years we always had some problems in the car to finish the race. That I hope doesnt happen. I hope we can finish most of the races in good points as we know at the end of the season it is always important to be there on a good amount of points. Many people say at the beginning of the season what is important is the reliability. Reliability is always important. It is important to finish the race. We did a lot of kilometres in the winter test which helps when you have a good car to start the season."
In general the drivers seem to have welcomed the ban on refuelling.
"I think the regulations have to be good for everybody: for the drivers, for the teams but also a lot for the guys who are watching the race," the Brazilian said. "It's very difficult to say which ones [regulations] I prefer, the new ones or the ones from last year. We havent yet done a single race, it's very early to say which one I prefer, but I think if it's good to everybody - for the moment I dont think anybody is against the regulations - it should be no problem to change. It's also a new challenge for everybody, so we just need to focus on every new point and try to do the best."
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton thought: "It's a new challenge in the sport for all of us and the key is that were moving forward, so Im excited to see how it works and Im sure we will do everything we can, collectively, to put on a good show."
McLaren cleared a major potential hurdle yesterday when the FIA declared their controversial rear wing to be legal. It is believed that an air inlet on the left side of the monocoque chassis can be opened and closed by movement of the drivers left knee, to direct airflow over the rear wing and help stall it to make the car faster on the straights. It has been described as a simple but brilliant trick, and the scrutineers had no problem with it.
Further down the paddock there was also good news for one of the new teams. HRTs crew looked dog tired after all the endless hours of effort just to get to Bahrain. But they are here, and they fired up Bruno Senna's car and ran it through the gears for the first time on Thursday. That was a major milestone for the team whose first test session of the year begins in opening practice.