IMS Bahrain Grand Prix postscript

2006 BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX POSTSCRIPT Four teams show immediate pace; Berger pleased with Speed's debut INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - With four different teams leading at least one lap in the Bahrain Grand Prix, the 2006 Formula One World...

2006 BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX POSTSCRIPT
Four teams show immediate pace; Berger pleased with Speed's debut

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - With four different teams leading at least one lap in the Bahrain Grand Prix, the 2006 Formula One World Championship, which includes the United States Grand Prix on July 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, could shape up to be a very competitive season.

"There are four teams fighting for victories at any circuit at the moment: Honda, McLaren, Ferrari and Renault," said reigning World Champion Fernando Alonso, who won the Bahrain race in his Renault. "I think any of them can win races, and this would make the start of the season very, very interesting."

Ferrari driver and four-time United States Grand Prix winner Michael Schumacher finished a very close second in Bahrain.

"This year the fight for the championship will be very close," seven-time World Champion Schumacher said. "There are several good teams, all of which are capable of battling for the title, and it's great to be one of them."

Clutch and gearbox problems kept Honda drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello from exploiting their cars' full potential.

"We come away from Bahrain disappointed with our final result but at the same time very encouraged by the performance of our car and drivers and looking forward to Malaysia," said Honda's sporting director and 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner, Gil de Ferran.

The McLaren-Mercedes cars of Kimi Raikkonen and 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya also were competitive.

"People said we weren't very good," Raikkonen said, "but during the last month we really improved our position, and when we came here the car was pretty good. It was nice to see that we were strong in the race, and we could have been very strong in qualifying, also."

***

Berger happy: Former F1 driver Gerhard Berger, the new co-owner of Scuderia Toro Rosso, was pleased with the way his team and drivers performed in the Bahrain Grand Prix. American Scott Speed finished 13th in his F1 debut, and his teammate, Tonio Liuzzi, finished 11th.

"It's a really good result for us," Berger said. "With not many of the front-runners stopping, finishing midfield is about the best we could expect. It reflects our place in the order, and the team can be more than happy, having performed well all weekend.

"Well done to everyone who worked so hard to get here. From a personal point of view, I have to say this was a special day, watching my first race as a team owner. I am very happy."

***

Olympic champ is F1 fan: Michael Johnson, who won five gold medals in track and field for the United States over the span of three different Olympic Games (1992, 1996, 2000), attended the Bahrain Grand Prix and took part in a celebrity race.

He has been a F1 fan since he watched his first Grand Prix in Belgium in 1995. Since then, he has been to F1 races in Japan, Belgium, Monaco and now Bahrain.

"I'm a big F1 fan," he said. "The speed, the technology, the strategy - it is a great sport, it really is."

***

Porsche winner: Uwe Alzen won the opening round of the Porsche Michelin Supercup ahead of Richard Westbrook and David Saelens.

The series, for identically prepared Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, runs in conjunction with Formula One races.

***

New season opener: Bahrain staged the 751st World Championship Grand Prix and was only the 13th track, after Silverstone (Great Britain), Bremgarten (Switzerland), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Monaco, Zandvoort (Netherlands), East London (South Africa), Kyalami (South Africa), Interlagos (Brazil), Long Beach (United States), Jacarepagua (Brazil), Phoenix (United States) and Melbourne (Australia), to play host to the seasonal curtain-opener since 1950.

Australia, which has staged the first Grand Prix of the season since 1996, will be the third race of the season, April 2. The date was changed to avoid conflict with the Commonwealth Athletic Games in Australia.

*** 2006 USGP tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 2006 United States Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, July 2.

Fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday, while online orders can be made at any time.

-ims-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Toro Rosso