McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull all made an impression on the timesheets during the first day of the Bahrain weekend. The leading teams and their rivals reflect on their early progress at Sakhir...
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:34.249, 4th; P2 - 1:32.816, 1st
"That was a good start to the weekend, and whilst it's nice to be quickest today, we know that doesn't count. The most important thing still is to improve our race pace. For the moment, it looks reasonable but we need to analyse where we are on high fuel levels compared to our competitors and draw our conclusions. The conditions are really tough out there, so the race will be quite demanding from the tyre perspective."
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:34.483, 7th; P2 - 1:33.862, 5th
"We started well today, and our long runs are satisfying as well as our overall times. Unfortunately I could not complete my fast lap properly due to traffic. We will have to see what the outcome will be tomorrow and on Sunday as the tyres go away very quickly. You really have to stay within the limit of them, that's going to be the main issue. Let's see what we can make out of it but the start of the weekend has definitely not been too bad for us."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
"We had a very solid day of practice here today, completing some good work on both low and high fuel. We made some progress over the day with the set-up of the car, there were no issues and, all in all, it was a very reasonable day. We've done our homework and know what our priorities are, so that should enable us to work out what we want to tomorrow."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"We had a pretty good first day learning quite a lot about the big challenge of how to use the tyres in the best possible way and make them last during the necessary number of laps in the race. There was more grip in the second session which helped. We still have room for improvement but I think our team has a good understanding of what will be required here on Sunday. Having said that, it is much too early to judge where we are compared to our competitors."
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:34.552, 8th; P2 - 1:33.262, 2nd
It was quite challenging out on track, trying to get everything together. The tyres were a bit of a surprise for everybody in terms of how they are behaving, theyre losing their grip pretty quick, but that's the same for everybody. There are some quick cars out there of course we dont know which fuel loads people were running, but it looks pretty tight again. Tyres will play a big role on Sunday in the race.
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:33.877, 2nd; P2 - 1:33.525, 3rd
We did a lot of running today, so thats good. Regarding set-up, I think we got the answers in China that we were looking for and thats helped us here. We now need to see where we are against what everyone else did today. Its very hot here, so the tyres are suffering a little as a result, but its the same for all teams. I think others are the favourites this weekend, but we are focusing on ourselves and pushing hard. We made a step forward, but we see where we are tomorrow.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:33.572, 1st; P2 - 1:33.747, 4th
Looking after the tyres here is going to be a real challenge. The track surface is extremely hot, and the amount of energy that goes through the tyres under braking is incredible: the temperatures keep on rising until it feels just like driving on an ice-rink. Tyre degradation will be a big issue for everyone around here and the weekend will be all about who can look after the tyres the best. Wind direction also played a huge role today. On one lap, thered be a headwind going into Turn Four, the next lap, itd be a tailwind, then a crosswind. And that makes a big difference around the circuit. I think my fastest lap was set half an hour after Nico [Rosberg] set the fastest time of the session, and the wind was very different. In general, Mercedes looks quick. Were there or thereabouts, but well know more tomorrow. Overall, a tough day; a tough challenge, but were all in the same boat.
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:34.277, 5th; P2 - 1:34.246, 6th
I had an interesting day trying to find a balance on both types of tyre compound. The cars been acting very differently from how its been in the first three races. Perhaps weve gone too far with the balance and need to take a step back - therell be a bit of work needed tonight to get us into a better position. But Im hopeful of resolving the issues before tomorrow. My times havent looked great all day - over a single lap, the Mercedes and the Red Bull both look quick. Theres a big margin to the front at the moment - but I dont think it will be the same in the race. However, ignoring the times, I just dont feel completely happy with the direction weve chosen. Weve started talking about what we can do for tomorrow and there are already some positive comments about which direction to take. Its going to be difficult for all of us out there - it will be all about what tyre we can get to work.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
A tricky session here in Bahrain today - in this mornings session, neither Jenson nor Lewis felt completely satisfied with the cars balance, and we spent the afternoon pursuing a number of set-up options in order to establish a clearer direction for the remainder of the weekend. After P2, its clear that were still following that path, but, as always, we have plenty of data to sift through overnight. Jenson and Lewis have also provided the team with some excellent feedback, which dovetails nicely: its now the role of the engineers to assimilate that into a useful set-up direction for tomorrow. While the lap times dont reflect it, our long-run pace looks reasonably promising, and Im confident that well establish a good baseline for tomorrows running.
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:35.929, 5th; P2 - 1:34.411, 7th
Technically we had no incidents but we are struggling on tyre temperatures. The lap times on the soft tyres in the short run didnt look too bad, but for qualifying there is still some work to do. Even more improvement is necessary for the long runs and for me this goes for both tyre compounds, soft and medium. We will evaluate the data now and see what we can do better for tomorrow.
Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:35.024, 11th; P2 - 1:34.893, 10th
To me this was a very positive day. I am happy about having had a good Friday and I am very satisfied with the work we have done. We have learnt a lot and we managed the tyre degradation on the rear, which everybody has problems with, quite well. We still need to sort out a few set-up issues for qualifying, but I am very confident for tomorrow.
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
The two sessions were okay for us. We were able to complete the whole programme with both cars. As we expected, the heat makes it difficult to keep the tyres consistent, but this seems to be a common issue for most of the cars. There we have some work to do. Apart from that we found a reasonable balance. Now we have to work for the race.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:35.436, 13th; P2 - 1:34.449, 8th
Traditionally, Ive always gone well at this track, one of the few where I have won three times. And so its always a pleasure to drive at Sakhir and once again today I had fun. The first day of the Bahrain Grand Prix is always very difficult, because the track conditions are never at their best, mainly because of the sand and wind. On top of that, this track is used only very rarely, which adds to making Friday hard to interpret, maybe more so than other places. That is why, basing all your choices in terms of set-up on what one has seen today is not always the right move, because we need to bear in mind that the track will change a lot between now and Sunday. We tried as best we could to check the tyre behaviour: we have the same ones as in Shanghai, but the temperature is very different. There is still a lot to do, especially on the rear end, to try and find more grip.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:35.719, 15th; P2 - 1:34.941, 12th
It was a very hot day, on which we concentrated mainly on analysing the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres. From what we could see today, the degradation is very marked with both compounds, more so than at other tracks. It was an important task, especially looking to the race, but also for the session that will decide the grid positions. Without a doubt, we still have a lot of work to do. The fundamental thing will be to put together a car that is consistent in performance terms, to try and slow the rate of tyre degradation.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
Only the track has changed and the car has remained practically identical, therefore it would be hard for our position relative to the others to be any different. Above all, we are at a track where traction and straight line speed are two key factors in achieving a competitive performance and, currently, the F2012 has shown itself to be particularly lacking in precisely these two areas. Therefore why should we be surprised by our position and the gaps to the quickest? In contrast to Shanghai, the temperatures are much higher here, which has a significant effect on tyre behaviour. Today, we did the usual work, comparing aerodynamic configurations that are slightly different to one another, while also working on the set-up of the two cars. Now its a case of analysing the data well and putting together the best of what weve got. We can expect qualifying to be very tough tomorrow: theres no denying that getting both cars into Q3 will be very difficult.
Romain Grosjean, P1 - 1:34.847, 10th; P2 - 1:34.615, 9th
"This season so far we've been from quite cool temperatures in Australia to hot weather in Malaysia, reasonably cool in China and then hot again here in Bahrain. This variation makes it difficult for the team to set up the car, as you're working with different conditions and therefore spend most of the practice sessions adjusting things to match. We now have a much better idea of how the car behaves and hopefully this will lead to a good performance in qualifying tomorrow. I think we can be quite happy with our day's work; we ran through the full programme as planned and got some decent mileage under our belts. We've made a big improvement from where we were this time last week in China; I'm feeling confident on long runs and tomorrow we'll be pushing hard to get the best single lap pace as well."
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:34.609, 9th; P2 - 1:35.183, 13th
"The soft tyres felt better today but we have to work out which tyre will work best over a stint duration. It's too early to draw any conclusion and we have to look at the data. At the moment, it doesn't look like the difference will be night and day. The track conditions were surprisingly good straight away in first practice today, and it didn't feel like a massive difference in the second session. Hopefully the wind does not get up overnight and blow sand on to the track. Tyre degradation should be interesting. There are things you can do as a driver to minimise this, but you can do more with the set-up of the car. I hope we find a good solution."
James Allison, Lotus technical director
"There's a pattern emerging over the first four races where it seems that the programme we run on a Friday is different from that run by other teams, so you can't draw too many conclusions merely from looking at our position on the timing monitors. The key for this weekend's race will be making the tyres work in the heat and we're encouraged by our pace using both tyres with both cars on high fuel today. We ran comparisons of our upgrade components and we have plenty of data to make an assessment.
Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:36.591, 20th; P2 - 1:34.895, 11th
Importantly, we made progress through the day, after the first session did not go too well. We couldnt get the tyres to work properly, wheel spinning on the Prime, which overheated it, so we lacked grip. We knew what we needed to do, but it did not work out on track. The second session went better, as can be seen from the fact we moved up the time sheet. More important is the fact Ive now got a better feeling with the car. We still need to make more progress and in terms of what we do to the car for tomorrow, we have a couple of options to choose from. We got a first impression of the tyres and Id say the Option is better and seems to cope well with the hot conditions. Lets say I dont think anyone will do a one stop on Sunday and looking after the rear tyres will be a priority.
Jean-Eric Vergne, P1 - 1:36.195, 17th; P2 - 1:35.229, 14th
A very busy day for me and my mechanics. We started off the first practice session with me running an older car specification, based on the one I had in Shanghai, while Daniel ran the newer one. His worked better, so we switched to that for the afternoon session. It was definitely an improvement and we have made a good step forward, although we need to improve the balance still further for tomorrow. If we can make even more progress for FP3 then we will be in good shape. The tyres overheat very easily, so managing them is quite difficult and will be one of the keys to having a good race.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
Overall, this was an intensive days work for us as we had a few bits and pieces to evaluate. We are reasonably happy with what we achieved, made possible by the fact that both cars ran without any problems, completing a high number of laps. We were able to scan a few car configurations and set-up options for Sundays race. Having such a productive Friday was therefore a good start to the weekend and we now need to convert that into an increase in our pace tomorrow.
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:35.268, 12th; P2 - 1:35.459, 15th
It was a busy day but we completed our programme. We were concentrating more on our race pace, but I feel happy as overall the car is looking consistent. Im looking forward to getting into qualifying tomorrow.
Bruno Senna, P2 - 1:36.169, 18th
Today was quite a difficult day with tough track conditions. We found a good direction for the car though and our long runs this afternoon looked consistent. We just need to keep chipping away to ensure an optimum set-up for the race.
Valtteri Bottas, P1 - 1:35.497, 14th
It was pretty warm out there but its not as humid as it was in Malaysia. We got all the data we needed this morning so it was a productive session. It was also good for me to get more mileage on another new track, completing some consistent runs. Overall, I am happy with how it went and I think we will see a good race on Sunday.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
As will be the case at the majority of races this season, Valtteri drove in the morning session alongside Pastor, with Bruno getting back into his car for the afternoon. Unfortunately Bruno's track time was compromised by a small electrical problem which was quickly diagnosed and resolved. Both sessions were dominated by the performance of the medium and soft tyres as we worked to optimise the set-ups to balance the car for the difficult track conditions. We improved both cars from the morning session to the afternoon, but still have work to do to improve things further ahead of qualifying and the race.
Vitaly Petrov, P1 - 1:36.484, 19th; P2 - 1:35.913, 16th
It's been a good day for us. We completed a decent number of laps in both sessions and I've been happy with the car all day. It's going to be tough on the tyres on Sunday, on both compounds, but we looked pretty good on the softs on the performance run and we have a couple of changes we can try tomorrow to get the most out of the primes, so I think we're looking good. It's clear that degradation is going to be the biggest talking point on Sunday and I think we'll see a lot of stops right across the field. That'll bring strategy and pit stops into play in a big way so whatever happens it's going to be an exciting race for the fans.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:36.330, 18th; P2 - 1:35.968, 17th
A good day for us in terms of the mileage we've covered and the amount of data we've collated. This morning the track wasn't as dusty as we'd feared, so the grip levels were ok. That meant we could take a proper look at the degradation levels on the prime tyres in FP1 and it was immediately clear that the heat and the nature of this track will mean managing wear rates is going to be crucial on Sunday. Rear grip is an area we'll have to pay particular attention to and we tried a few setup changes to try and manage that, but I think it'll be the same for everyone.
Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 support leader for Caterham
"The Bahrain International Circuit presents us with an interesting challenge in two main areas: how we deal with the physical conditions of the track, and how we maximise the performance of the car over the whole lap. The ambient temperatures and sandy atmosphere mean we have to work closely with the team to ensure we have the optimum cooling package on the bodywork, but the sand isn't actually a major issue for us. We use filters that are based on our experience in desert rallying and they are the same for the whole season. We cannot change them race by race, so we have accounted for the conditions here many months before the season starts. Performance-wise, we have another track that requires us to have good top speed down the main straight from T14 down to T1, and make sure the drivers have good traction throughout the whole lap. We have to pay particular attention to how we configure seventh gear for the main straight as the wind direction can change between tail and head winds and that has a relatively high effect on what ratios we use. From what we have seen today I think we can be happy with the plans we have activated here, and we have more performance to come tomorrow, so it looks like this could be a good weekend for the team."
Mark Smith, Caterham technical director
"The conditions here give us some interesting challenges for us from a technical perspective. Today our main priority has been assessing the tyre degradation rates and how we can manage those on differing fuel loads. It looks like rear tyre degradation is going to play a critical role on Sunday so the mileage we have completed today gives us a good chance to make sure we know what to expect on race day. We have also been looking at how we maximise the brake cooling and how we deal with brake wear. The Bahrain circuit is hard on the brakes so we need to make sure the drivers have consistent performance from the braking system, both in qualifying and on race day. Overall I am pleased with what we have achieved today. It is too early to tell where we are in relation to the cars ahead but I think we have got back to where we should be in relation to the cars ahead and I am confident we are in good shape for the weekend ahead.
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:38.006, 22nd; P2 - 1:36.587, 19th
A very difficult day today, especially in FP2. This morning we had a fairly normal programme developing and monitoring the new parts to help move the car forward. We completed a lot of aero work so we were getting good data and numbers out of the car, but it was looking ahead rather than specific to this weekend. FP2 was difficult with the tyres. They were dropping quickly and affecting the rear stability on the long run. The car is still a bit too difficult to drive at the moment, so we have to find a way to make it better. In general not the best start so far; in the last few races we have had better Fridays. Theres still a lot of work to do overnight to make improvements on the car for tomorrow.
Charles Pic, P1 - 1:37.467, 21st; P2 - 1:37.803, 20th
Today I have been focusing on what we need to do to prepare for the race, evaluating the tyre options with fuel and looking at what we can do to manage the brakes and the tyre wear. By splitting the programme it means we have a lot of data to look at tonight but I think everyone up and down the field has the same challenge.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
It has been an interesting start to the weekend and it is already clear that the race, and the preparation for it, is going to pose an interesting challenge. As always here we are trying to manage brake wear and tyre degradation caused by the combination of the circuit characteristics, the track temperature and the track surface. Things are less than straightforward and the rest of the weekend will be about assessing the track evolution and tyre improvement between now and Sundays race. Our focus so far has not been on the people around us as weve been concentrating very much on our programme, so our true performance level here will only become clear tomorrow.
Pedro de la Rosa, P1 - 1:38.877, 23rd; P2 - 1:37.812, 21st
"We can say we met our target for the day which was none other than to check that the changes weve made to the cooling of the car worked very well, which reassures us because it means we can face the weekend with guarantees. Leaving that aside, we suffered quite a bit of degradation to the rear tyres, but I think everyone faced that. That is due to the heat and the type of track. We tested soft and medium tyres and for the long run we divided our work with Narain, him on mediums and myself on softs, to cover both options and see which one is best. We improved the cars balance as the day wore on and Im satisfied but tomorrow we should be able to fine-tune things a bit more.
Narain Karthikeyan, P1 - 1:39.996, 24th; P2 - 1:39.649, 22nd
"Today we tried out a lot of different options to save the tyres because its very hot out there and they degrade quickly. And we worked on that objective in these two practice sessions. Apart from the work with both Pirelli options, we covered a lot of laps to see if the car is overheating, but it seems to be doing fine. Tomorrow we will change things a bit and adapt the car for the race and, although the weather conditions are a bit extreme, it responded well today, and hopefully we can keep that going for the rest of the weekend.
Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal
"It was a positive day because we were able to make the most of the whole day to work on the set-up. And also because it looks like the solution we brought to this Grand Prix to improve the cooling is working well. This is one of the most demanding circuits for the engine and it was important to fix it. Were still progressing and working with much more coordination. Every day we have more rhythm, both the car and the team, and that makes us come closer to our objective with every day that passes.
Force India (Did not participate in P2 for logistical reasons)
Paul di Resta, P1 - 1:34.150, 3rd
The track was very green and dusty to begin with, but we got on with the programme quickly and did the usual balance work, cooling checks and got a feel for both the medium and the soft tyres. The baseline set-up was not a long way off, but our focus for tomorrow is to improve our performance in the low-speed corners.
Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:34.344, 6th
It was a different approach to FP1 today and we made sure we ran all three sets of tyres to get the data we need for the race. The session went okay and the car felt quite good out of the box, although there is still some fine-tuning to do in FP3.
Jakob Andreasen, Force India chief engineer
A very busy morning programme with a lot to get through considering we havent raced in Bahrain for a couple of years. After the initial balance checks we looked at our brake and engine cooling solutions and dialled the cars into the circuit with some mechanical and aero set-up work. We have pretty much used up our tyre allocation this morning, which has given us all the data we need heading into tomorrow when we can hopefully deliver a strong qualifying performance.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
The sand on the track - a phenomenon that we are well aware of, following our tests in Bahrain in the past limited the useful running in the morning, but it was a much busier session in the afternoon with all the teams running both compounds in order to make up for any lost time earlier. The teams will all have been looking closely at the effect of track temperature on performance, which is going to form an integral part of their strategy for qualifying and the race, as well as monitoring degradation. From what we can see so far the pace of both compounds is around 0.6 seconds apart and degradation is in line with expectations. But we still have a lot of data to go through tonight before we can accurately predict how long the stints are likely to be on each tyre, as this is the first time that we are here in race conditions.
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Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 20 Apr 2012
McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull all made an impression on the timesheets during the first day of the Bahrain weekend. The leading teams and their rivals reflect on their early progress at Sakhir...