Following Jenson Button's fantastic third place podium finish at last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda now head to the Middle East for the third round of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship, the inaugural Bahrain ...
Following Jenson Button's fantastic third place podium finish at last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda now head to the Middle East for the third round of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship, the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix.
The brand new 5.417, 15-turn, clockwise circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, who has also designed the Shanghai circuit, in preparation for the new Chinese Grand Prix, and the Sepang track in Malaysia. There is one very high-speed corner, a couple of medium-speed and several low-speed, and aerodynamic efficiency and traction will be important for this. Maximum speeds are expected to be similar to Melbourne, at around 320kph. It is expected that there will be some overtaking opportunities, notably on the main straight, which is very long, at 1.04kms.
The high temperatures are likely to pose a challenge, as although it will be lower humidity than Malaysia, track temperatures will be high. Another problem could be inconsistent grip while the track cleans up from the sand surrounding the circuit.
B.A.R Team Principal, David Richards, and Jenson both visited the construction site of the Bahrain International Circuit towards the end of 2003. Both expect the circuit to be of the highest standard on the F1 calendar, and Jenson and Takuma Sato are both looking forward to the new challenges it will present.
"Obviously the whole team is feeling very positive, but we still have a lot of work to do before Bahrain, which is why we have been testing in France this week. It is very difficult to know what to expect as the circuit is brand new, but from the information we have seen, we know it is very dusty, so it will be interesting to see what the track conditions will be like. We will have to see what happens over the race weekend. It would be nice to follow up on our good result at the last race with some more points or perhaps another podium. I am looking forward to the challenge."
"I really don't know much about this new race, but I am in the same position as most other people. All we know is that it is going to be really hot and sandy! It is always interesting to go to a new circuit, and I personally am very excited to be going to a new country. I have never been to that area at all, so it will be a great new experience."
"I will be doing three days of training before the race to prepare for the hot conditions, and with all the preparations we are doing at the test this week, we should be in a really good position. Malaysia was disappointing, as we had the pace and the strategy and could have scored a point without the problem we had. We are working on the reliability and as we were competitive at the first two races, I am very encouraged and looking forward to Bahrain."
David Richards, Team Principal:
"We are obviously delighted with our podium finish in Malaysia. It is always a pleasure to see your driver achieve his first podium and in Jenson's case, after such a huge effort by him and the team. We are, however, aware that whilst a podium finish is a good result, it isn't where we are striving to be, which is on the top step. We will continue to push hard in pursuit of our ultimate objective for this season, our first race win.
"The first Bahrain Grand Prix is an exciting challenge for all of the teams and we have been working very hard in order to prepare for what is essentially an unknown quantity for the drivers, the engineers and Michelin. All our preparation work indicates that we should be able to replicate another strong performance at the Sakhir circuit, and there is good reason to feel confident that both drivers will again be able to benefit from the positive steps forward we have taken this season."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"We had some reliability concerns at Sepang with the engine and the chassis. Honda is investigating the engine problem and we have solutions for the chassis which we are testing at Paul Ricard this week. It will be interesting to go to the new circuit as it puts everyone back on a level playing field. We think the circuit should suit the Michelin tyres and we learnt a lot about operating tyres on higher track temperatures in Malaysia. Our aim in Bahrain is to get on the podium and to get both cars in the points. Having proved we can do it once, we expect to feature regularly on the podium throughout the season."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"It was great to meet the first of our aims for this season with the podium finish in Malaysia. We made more good progress with the Bahrain specification engine at the Paul Ricard test, and we are looking forward to bringing the technology and excitement of Formula One to a new country."