Tiago Monteiro managed to keep a cool head during the hottest contest of the season and Formula One history, on the Sakhir circuit today, in the sun-drenched Bahrain desert, where the mercury rose past 40Â°C. Tiago Monteiro. Photo by ...
Tiago Monteiro managed to keep a cool head during the hottest contest of the season and Formula One history, on the Sakhir circuit today, in the sun-drenched Bahrain desert, where the mercury rose past 40°C.
The Jordan driver brought home his team's first top-ten finish of the season despite the heat, and a task made more difficult by the choice of soft Bridgestone tyres, which were worn out almost to the cord by race's end.
Monteiro had already moved up one place on the starting grid, after Sunday's qualifying session where he dominated over his teammate Narain Karthikeyan by 0.715 seconds in combined qualifying times for both sessions.
Tiago moved up another spot when the engine on Barrichello's Ferrari had to be changed before the race, forcing the Brazilian driver to take a ten-place penalty before the lights went out, releasing the twenty racers.
Unfortunately, the move did not help Tiago, who was then forced to start on the sandy side of the Sakhir circuit, known for having less grip than the ideal path.
The entire team was tense at the start of the race, because everyone was worried the tires would not go the distance on a track superheated to over 50°C. Under these conditions, Tiago's tenth-place finish was greeted with joy and received the celebration it deserved from the whole Jordan team.
"It was a terrible race, the heat was scorching, and we had to work a great deal to adapt the car to the track conditions, all the while keeping in mind the objective of saving the tyres," Tiago announced, upon getting out of his car.
"I have never worked so hard with the steering wheel to save the car on the track, and the last twenty laps were very complicated, with the constant threat of skidding off the track at every turn. Still, we managed once again to reach our objectives and it felt good to see the people from Jordan and Bridgestone come to congratulate me once I had reached the finish line."
Besides the heat and the condition of his tyres, Tiago also had to work with some technical issues which came up to hinder his performance throughout his third F1 race weekend.
"We had problems with the traction control the entire weekend, and they became a real brain-teaser during the race. It was overzealous and the car would slow down substantially coming out of each turn, which didn't help with the tyres wearing out! So I had to adapt my driving to make it to the chequered flag, and this tenth-place finish is a sweet reward for the entire team."
Galvanized by his performance, Tiago will start a new development phase with the Jordan Toyota EJ15. "We know we have a lot of work to do to improve the car. We are going to test new parts during our tests at Paul Ricard and we will take advantage of the opportunity to adapt the car to my driving style, and to do some qualifying simulations as well."
"The hardest part of the championship is over as far as I'm concerned. I was sick in Melbourne, I had to deal with the heat and humidity in Malaysia, and today I finished in the Top 10 and I am still making progress. So, for the first part of the season, the result is positive: I have learned a lot. Now we will be on European circuits, some of which are not unknown to me, unlike the first three of the season."