Renault's Fernando Alonso looks back over the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend "This was my first ever visit to the Middle East and as soon as I arrived, I could tell this would be a special event. We went round the circuit on Wednesday, and got a...
Renault's Fernando Alonso looks back over the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend
"This was my first ever visit to the Middle East and as soon as I arrived, I could tell this would be a special event. We went round the circuit on Wednesday, and got a first idea of the layout: for me, it didn't look very exciting, but even so it was going to be a big challenge."
"On Thursday, we did some PR and it allowed us to get out and see the country. With Jarno and Franck, we went to the traditional market, and then out into the desert -- it was a little bit like some parts of Spain actually, but we don't usually get to see the countries we visit so it was an interesting morning!"
"Friday was trouble-free: for the drivers, it is always fun learning a new circuit, and it is fun to try and find the correct lines through the corners. We didn't actually do too much work on the set-up, but that was deliberate: the track was changing a lot during the day, so we tried to avoid making too many changes and getting confused. Saturday morning was going to be important because there would be lots of work to do, but I knew that ninth place, although it wasn't spectacular, didn't represent our true competitiveness."
"Saturday morning was quite good for us. When we had new tyres, we went out early in the sessions, so our quickest times were not representative of where we were, and I also made a mistake on one of our laps. Basically, though, we knew that the car was capable of the top eight, maybe anywhere up to fourth, and we demonstrated that in pre-qualifying: I finished sixth, which was a fair result."
"When it came to my lap in proper qualifying, though, I had a problem under braking for the first corner -- the front tyres just locked up immediately, and I ran wide. I lost one second there, and knew there was something wrong with the car so took the rest of the lap easy -- we wouldn't start where we should have done, but maybe I could get something like tenth place."
"Then, at the last corner, the car just understeered off the circuit during braking, and I lost more time. I ended up seventeenth, so it wasn't ideal at all. Sure, we knew that from the back we could score points, as Malaysia showed, but it was frustrating not to have performed to our potential."
"When we arrived at the track on Sunday it was raining and very windy -- although the showers were predicted to pass through, the sand on the circuit was more of a worry. I also had a nice surprise in the garage just before going to the grid: somebody tapped me on the helmet, which is pretty unusual, and it was the King who had come to wish me good luck -- that certainly doesn't happen every day!"
"The start of the race was pretty tough: a Jaguar nearly put me in the wall at the start, then again, I hit Klien at turn 8 when he chopped across me. That knocked the front wing off, and also one of the forward bargeboards: I had to pit to get it changed and, at the end of lap 2, I was a minute behind the leader -- almost exactly the same as at the finish!"
"We refuelled the car at the stop, and then it was just a case of maximum attack for 56 laps, with two pit-stops in between. The car balance was perfect, and I just kept on pushing: some drivers were quite difficult to get past, and Mark (Webber) actually apologised to me after the race, but all I could do was keep on pushing and hope to make up as many positions as possible. The only problem came when I caught Sato in the final stint, and didn't have the performance to get past."
"But still, three points was a good result from sixteenth, and it is fantastic for Renault to be second in the championship. Testing this week at Barcelona has gone well so far -- I set fastest time yesterday -- so we are pretty optimistic for Imola right now. All I want is to start a little further up the grid!"