Bahrain Grand Prix: Pre-race quotes from team personnel

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, Mercedes (Daimler):
“Last Sunday was a milestone for our MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS team. However, things move quickly in this business and our focus 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.”

Eric Boullier, Lotus-Renault (Team Principal):
“I would say our expectations for Bahrain are a copy and paste from China. 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 don’t like being in 6th position in the Constructors’ Championship, but we should not remain there for too long!”

James Allison, Lotus-Renault (Technical Director):
“We go to Bahrain knowing that we’re 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. We’ll 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 didn’t use for the race. We’re racing back on the original configuration as last used in 2009. It’ll be the first proper test of our braking systems for the year. We don’t anticipate any problems, but it will be on where we need to pay a little bit more attention to wear and temperature. It’s also a circuit where we need some good traction – turn 1, turn 10 especially as it’s 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.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Sauber-Ferrari (Head of Track Engineering):
“The track is a sequence of long straights with low speed corners, so it’s very demanding on the brakes. Good traction is also crucial on this circuit. We didn’t 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 it’s smooth, it’s 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 it’s because the drivers have to brake very hard. At the end of the day the most important factors are braking performance and traction.”

Mark Gillan, Williams-Renault (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°C’s. 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.”

Mark Smith, Caterham-Renault (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.”

Luis Pérez-Sala, HRT-Cosworth (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 we’ve 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 I’m 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.”

John Booth, Marussia-Cosworth (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 we’ve made in such a short space of time. Going into last weekend’s race in China we’d eaten into the gap to our immediate competitors by 0.8s since Malaysia. Combined with the 0.6s decrease we’d seen between the first two races, that means we’ve 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.”

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