Bahrain preview quotes - Force India, Mercedes, Red Bull & more 18 Apr 2012
With its searing temperatures, occasionally sandy track surface and high braking demands, the Bahrain International Circuit presents both drivers and engineers with a unique challenge. Despite its absence from the 2011 calendar, most of the 2012 grid have driven there before, either in Formula One or GP2, and those that have are eager to go racing again
Paul di Resta, Force India
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a
We will have the same car in Bahrain because its just a few days away, but its a very different track and we expect different weather conditions so we will try to make the most out of that. The team have some good ideas because we have not raced there for a couple of years and nobody has had a chance to run on Pirellis there yet.
Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - 14th
I enjoy the track, which has quite a nice rhythm and some technical corners, such as turns nine and ten. Its in the desert and sand can be an issue on the track, but it really depends on the strength and direction of the wind. I think the secret to a good lap is not to be too aggressive into the braking zones because you need to carry good speed through the middle of the corners and get early on the throttle to carry the speed onto the straights. Overtaking is possible, especially into turn one because you can pick up a good slipstream down the straight.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
Although we missed out on points in China, we take encouragement from our race pace, which showed that the developments we are bringing to the car are paying off and that we are closing the gap to our midfield rivals. Its easy to point to statistics, but Paul finished the race just 22 seconds away from second place and seven and half seconds away from seventh place. It shows that we can stay in the hunt for points and that we have the potential to make some good progress when the championship returns to Europe and we can make further improvements to the car. Bahrain this week will be another tough test, but its a circuit with different characteristics and climate. We picked up points the last time we raced in Bahrain in 2010 so we will approach the weekend determined to deliver a repeat performance.
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes
2010 Qualifying - 7th, 2010 Race - 6th
"Having experienced a race such as China gives everybody in the team a big push, and we certainly will give our optimum to repeat our performance in the next races. However, the season so far shows that you can never be sure of anything, and having had three winners in three races demonstrates how close together the teams are this year. But then again, it is good to see that we are more and more able to fight at the front, and we will certainly try to transfer our great pace from China onto Bahrain for the next race to come this weekend."
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2010 Qualifying - 5th, 2010 Race - 5th
"I have really good memories of the Bahrain Circuit. I won the Formula Three Macau-Bahrain Cup, GP2 Championship and finished seventh on my F1 debut with the fastest lap of the race. I like the track a lot. It's quite low downforce with lots of big stops and some faster corners too. The track layout definitely fits our car but it's really a big challenge for us to manage our tyre work well again and find the right set-up as the temperatures will be much higher than in China."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
"After the fantastic weekend that we experienced in Shanghai, it has been nice to take a few days to reflect on the achievement of the first win for a Mercedes works car since 1955, and of course, Nico's first win in Formula One. The team have worked very hard to overcome the tyre issues that affected us at the first two races, and it is clear that achieving the optimum performance from the Pirelli tyres is absolutely key to our performance and ability to challenge at the front of the field. The temperatures and track conditions in Bahrain will be very different to Shanghai, however we will work hard to extract the maximum performance from the F1 W03 and have another strong weekend."
Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"Last Sunday was a milestone for our MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS team. However, things move quickly in this business and oufocus is now on preparing for the fourth race of the season in Bahrain. Our newly-formed Silver Arrows team made its debut at this circuit two years - and 41 races - ago. Since then, everybody in Brackley and Brixworth has worked tirelessly to make ours a winning team, and our performance in China provided a first taste of success. But we are keeping our feet on the ground, because this year more than ever before in the history of Formula One, small details can take you from hero to zero: just three tenths of a second separated P1 to P11 in qualifying last Saturday. We have not raced on this configuration of the Bahrain circuit since 2009, because the layout used in 2010 included an additional loop of slow corners. Track and ambient temperatures are of course traditionally high, while there are seven traction events from 150 kph or lower around the lap: these factors mean that looking after the rear tyres is particularly important. We have all seen how delicate it is to keep this generation of Pirelli tyres in their optimum performance window, and this challenge is making for some thrilling racing throughout the field. This weekend will be our chance to understand more about what progress we have made with our Mercedes AMG F1 W03 on this point in hotter conditions than we experienced in China. We are taking nothing for granted, and will continue to work in a focused manner on extracting everything we can from our current technical package."
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2010 Qualifying - 1st, 2010 Race - 4th
The track requires a lot from the drivers, because the constantly changing character of the corners means you never really get time to settle in to a lap. Also, as the track's built in the middle of the desert, you have to manage the sand there. It moves with the wind, so it can suddenly appear in new places on the track on each lap - so youre never quite sure where it will be slippery. For the teams, its always a challenge to anticipate the grip levels for the race. In Friday Practice, when the track is still "green", you often require a different set-up than you need for Sunday. Due to the nature of the circuit, the brakes are in high demand.
Mark Webber, Red Bull
2010 Qualifying - 6th, 2010 Race - 8th
We havent been to the circuit for two years and the last time we raced on the current track layout was in 2009. We also havent been there with Pirelli tyres or the DRS, so its going to be interesting to see how those new features go; the ingredients are all there for another exciting Grand Prix. Its going to be important to understand the tyres quickly and you need good top speed and braking. Its a hot race, hotter than it was in Australia and Shanghai and more like the temperature in Malaysia. It would be nice to get a podium before we go back to Europe.
Pastor Maldonado, Williams
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a
I like the circuit layout, and it should suit our car because of the hot conditions. It is also a challenging circuit for tyre degradation so we need to prepare for that. It was satisfying to score my first points of the season in China and hopefully I can pick up some more points in Bahrain.
Bruno Senna, Williams
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - DNF
Bahrain is a challenging track with a number of long straights followed by big braking areas so the car has to be set up differently to many other circuits. Cars with a big DRS effect will have an advantage so it will be interesting to see how teams will perform. We have good momentum from the first three races of the season and hopefully we can carry that into this race.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
Having held the race on the longer endurance course layout in 2010, the 2012 race has now reverted back to the 5.412km long, 57 lap Grand Prix layout. One of the main problems imposed by this circuit is the very hot local ambient conditions of typically 35°C and track temperature rising into the high 40°Cs. These conditions force teams to open up the engine cooling bodywork which in turn can adversely affect the aerodynamic efficiency. The layout of the circuit means the likelihood of a safety car is very low. The DRS zone detection point is just before the penultimate corner and the activation point is along the main straight. Pirelli have brought the same tyre compounds as used in both Australia and China, namely the Prime medium and Option soft tyre, and tyre management will once again be the main priority. Having got both cars home in the points in China the whole team is eager to repeat this result in Bahrain this coming weekend.
Timo Glock, Marussia
2010 Qualifying - 19th, 2010 Race - DNF
The Bahrain track has always produced some exciting racing and Im sure this year will be no exception, because theres a lot going on up and down the field at the moment. The circuit has some great overtaking opportunities and we have seen some special manoeuvres there in the past and some fascinating races as a result. From our point of view, we have been getting better and better in the first three Grands Prix and although we wont bring anything new to the car here, we can still consolidate what we have learned and continue to make progress. There is so much more potential in the car that it is exciting to see where we can take it as we prepare to step up to the European season next.
Charles Pic, Marussia
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a
The first three races were quite challenging because I had never raced on these circuits before, so it was a real step into the unknown. It will be nice to begin running in Bahrain so I can get straight into the aero and set-up programme without having to think about understanding the circuit and track characteristics. I am hoping this will enable me to push even harder this weekend. I know this track to be quite demanding on the brakes, due to the layout of long straights with low speed corners. The tyre degradation can be quite high because of this and the fact the track surface is quite abrasive. It will be another hot race for me and the team, so quite tough all round but I think we have shown so far that we like a challenge.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
Reading the timesheets at the end of the past few races it is easy to focus on position and overlook the fairly significant progress weve made in such a short space of time. Going into last weekends race in China wed eaten into the gap to our immediate competitors by 0.8s since Malaysia. Combined with the 0.6s decrease wed seen between the first two races, that means weve found almost 1.5s of lap time in the first three races which, considering the challenges we faced with our late start, is very pleasing to all of us. It is still very early in the season of course, but it is nice to see that we are heading in a good development direction.
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
2010 Qualifying - 3rd, 2010 Race - 1st
I am well aware that in Sakhir, we can expect another difficult weekend, which is only natural, partly because of the track characteristics and also because the car is the same one we had in Shanghai. Both the Scuderia and I have a good record in Bahrain: the team has four victories here and Ive got three, the last of which was also my debut race for the Prancing Horse. But the past counts for nothing in this sport and this weekend will be all about damage limitation for us. The championship is very open and there are a lot of teams that can aspire to victory, but clearly we need to make a leap forward to be more competitive if we want to aspire to coming out on top at the end. We have to take the step forward as soon as possible. I have faith in the team and I know everyone at Maranello is giving their all so that we can reach this objective. This weekend we will do our best and I hope I can have a race where I spend less time in traffic than I did last Sunday.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
There are a number of technical challenges that we are anticipating for Bahrain, with the hot conditions in excess of 30 degrees centigrade putting the compounds into a different working range. Weve gathered some data from the track as the result of our tests there in the past, but the tyres and cars have changed so much since then that it is almost like starting again with a blank sheet of paper. However, were expecting a notable degree of degradation that should certainly test the teams in terms of strategy. With the circuit not having been frequently used, we are anticipating quite a high degree of track evolution over the course of the weekend. The risk of sand on the track can be an issue, as it takes time to clear and can cause graining. So tyre management will again be crucial in Bahrain, with rear traction in particular the key to a strong qualifying and race pace.
Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a
I dont think the Bahrain International Circuit will present any particular problems for us. Its likely to be quite hot and our car didnt like the cold so much when we were in China so maybe the heat will suit us better. The track has a mixture of corners and its quite fun to race on. There are some opportunities to overtake so lets see what happens.
I have had a second and three third places in Bahrain which is okay. It is good to race there. We wont know how strong the car will be until we get there. Maybe we will get the upgrades on the car to work properly and we will be able to go faster than in China. Lets see. A podium should be possible and I think it has been at all the races weve been at so far. We dont know exactly how good the car will be until we get there, but we dont expect any problems.
Romain Grosjean, Lotus
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a
I raced there with the ART Grand Prix team and we took pole position, fastest lap and the win - its always nice to get a full house! Ive also got quite a lot of experience there from 2010 when I was a test driver for Pirelli, so hopefully this will help me get up to speed quickly in the E20. Its true that the configuration has changed, but the 2010 layout was only used for that season, and will return to its previous format for this year. I guess Im quite lucky really, as Ive driven the track in both forms so there will be no problem at all there.
Bahrain is a good track. It has some big braking which I quite like, some interesting changes of direction like the double-left in the middle of the racetrack I think the E20 will be nice there. The balance we have is pretty good and Im sure we can achieve something strong. I want to be able to put a proper qualifying and proper race all together. I think the car will be good there. The weather should stay the same throughout the weekend - hopefully!
Eric Boullier, Lotus team principal
Our aim will be to have a trouble-free weekend and show what we can do with the E20. This is the minimum, and unlike what happened at each of the first three races, there should not be any rain to make our life difficult in Bahrain! Having both cars in the top ten would be a nice improvement. Our potential is plain to see. I dont like being in sixth position in the constructors championship, but we should not remain there for too long!
James Allison, Lotus technical director
We go to Bahrain knowing that were going to have more consistent temperatures with the tyres! That will allow us to assess the upgrade package with a more level set of conditions. Well get as much of it on as we can prove is good. There are a couple of new bits coming for the car, such as a new pushrod. We will benefit from more time with the bits we took to China but ultimately didnt use for the race.
Were racing back on the original configuration as last used in 2009. Itll be the first proper test of our braking systems for the year. We dont anticipate any problems, but it will be on where we need to pay a little bit more attention to wear and temperature. Its also a circuit where we need some good traction - Turn 1, Turn 10 especially as its very slow speed. We have identified this as an area where the E20 needs some work so it will be interesting to see how we perform.
Pedro de la Rosa, HRT
2010 Qualifying - 14th, 2010 Race - DNF
"The Bahrain International Circuit is a difficult track because it has strong braking corners and its very easy to overrun coming into them. The three things we need to work on there are: for the car to brake well, have good grip and achieve a good top speed. Its a circuit I like because I made my debut for McLaren there, so Ive got good memories of it, I also achieved my first fastest lap in a race there too. In Bahrain the objective is to continue the improvement which we clearly saw in China, where we took a big step. Now we must maintain our reliability but in a hotter climate, we have to try and take the same step that we took in China.
Narain Karthikeyan, HRT
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a
"I dont know the circuit in Bahrain so Im going to have to be extra focused and make the most of my time in the car. We have an idea of what we think the set-up should be, so well see if this works. Were going to try a few things in Bahrain and, hopefully, this will help us to improve and progress further. What I do know about this track is that the weather is going to be very hot and weve struggled a bit in hot conditions this season so far because of the cooling system in the car, so were going to have to work very hard on this. After a good performance in Malaysia, well be looking to further reduce the gap to the group ahead of us.
Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal
"Without any time to enjoy or analyze the Chinese Grand Prix, we already find ourselves in another country and another Grand Prix, so we have to work against the clock to study all the data gathered in Shanghai and make the corresponding adjustments for Bahrain. This Grand Prix will take place in very different conditions and, although we could say that weve made up for the lack of preseason and are now at the starting point, our biggest weakness is still cooling. Here that is a key factor but Im confident we can continue along the same line as in the last races and will be able to progress a little bit more this weekend. Narain and Pedro, just like the rest of the team, have arrived very motivated and I hope that that work and motivation translates into another good result for our young team.
Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham
2010 Qualifying - 21st, 2010 Race - 15th
Bahrain is another one of the typical modern circuits. It doesn't have any really challenging corners and you can push hard for most of the lap, particularly over the kerbs which are pretty easy on the cars. As the track surface is rubbered in grip levels improve dramatically, so you'll see lap times dropping fast over the weekend, and that means you have to be on it for qualifying, to make sure you can get the most of out the session.
"Apart from the track conditions, one of the main technical areas we will be focusing on in Bahrain is braking. The high ambient temperatures and the nature of the track mean we will be spending quite a lot of Friday's practice sessions managing brake cooling and wear rates, so we are as well prepared as possible for qualifying and the race."
Vitaly Petrov, Caterham
2010 Qualifying - 17th, 2010 Race - DNF
Bahrain is where I made my F1 debut back in 2010 so it's a track that means a lot to me. I had great support when we last raced there and I'm sure it'll be the same this year with Caterham F1 Team.
"From the driver's point of view it's a pretty technical circuit and one where you need to have a really good balance and make sure you nail every apex to get the best lap times in. That's particularly true in the last sector and if you can get that right you can make up, and lose, a lot of time there.
"The sand obviously affects everyone the same, and it'll be interesting on Saturday to see how late everyone leaves their Q1 runs. The track gets more and more quick with every lap, and that means you have to be pretty bold with your strategy to make sure you give yourself the best possible shot at a good quali lap."
Mark Smith, Caterham technical director
The Bahrain circuit present us with several challenges, the most obvious being its desert location. The track surface is always pretty sandy at the beginning of each session and this means we see a reasonably high level of grip evolution throughout the course of the race weekend. On top of this, the sandy atmosphere means we have to pay special attention to both air filtration and the general mechanical assemblies, to prevent accelerated wear.
"The ambient temperatures will be hot and dry as expected, but the wind will also play quite a significant role throughout the weekend. The wind direction can change very suddenly and we have to take that into account when we are making final decisions on gear ratios, particularly top gear with KERS and DRS usage factored in. Significant demands are also placed on the brakes in Bahrain and it will be important to get the balance right between controlling brake temperatures and wear rate, without losing too much outright performance. This means that car setup work for each day on track will have a heavy focus towards providing a stable platform to meet the demands of both heavy braking and each traction event throughout the lap. Finally, the tyres allocated for Bahrain will be the medium and soft compounds which will also have been used in China. Hopefully this means we will have learnt a bit more about their optimum usage, albeit in a different ambient environment, and we will see how we can apply that knowledge over the race weekend."
Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber
2010 Qualifying - 16th, 2010 Race - DNF
Bahrain is one of my favourite circuits, and its layout is really good. I also like the high ambient temperatures there. It feels like summer. There was no race last year, so we have to guess how the track conditions are. Maybe it will be very slippery in the beginning. We will be driving on the shorter version of the track, where I have never raced in a Formula One car. However, I drove many laps there in testing with Toyota, and I raced in GP2, so I know the track well. We obviously have to be prepared to make sure we keep everything very cool.
Sergio Perez, Sauber
2010 Qualifying - n/a, 2010 Race - n/a
I have never raced in a Formula One car in Bahrain so far but, I have good memories linked to that circuit because I won a GP2 race there back in 2008. That was the one and only time I have raced there up to now. It is quite a stop-and-go circuit and I think rear tyre degradation can be quite high. Overall I feel that our team has a good momentum and we have to make sure we also keep it for the next race weekend.
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
The track is a sequence of long straights with low speed corners, so its very demanding on the brakes. Good traction is also crucial on this circuit. We didnt use the maximum downforce level in the times when we raced without DRS. Having a good straight line speed can make a difference there. Another peculiarity is the tarmac. Although its smooth, its quite abrasive, especially on the rear tyres, because of this combination of high temperatures and the sand which is blown on the track. Pirelli will provide us with the soft and medium compounds. Normally the ambient temperatures are between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius, which means that we have to use maximum cooling. This also applies to the brakes, although in that case its because the drivers have to brake very hard. At the end of the day the most important factors are braking performance and traction.
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