The Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team got its first taste of Bahrain's new Sakhir Circuit today as free practice got underway for this weekend's inaugural Grand Prix, the first F1 race to be held on Middle Eastern soil. Third driver Anthony Davidson...
The Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team got its first taste of Bahrain's new Sakhir Circuit today as free practice got underway for this weekend's inaugural Grand Prix, the first F1 race to be held on Middle Eastern soil. Third driver Anthony Davidson was the first man out on track for the team, with Jenson Button and Takuma Sato taking advantage of data gathered from Anthony's initial acclimatisation laps before making their first foray onto the all-new 5.417km Bahrain International Circuit.
All three drivers made a positive debut. Anthony recorded an impressive third fastest lap in both sessions and with 29 laps under his belt he split the Ferrari and Williams drivers, gaining two tenths on fourth-placed Michael Schumacher. Jenson ended the day 7th and Takuma 12th.
"I've had a very positive day today and I'm really pleased to end it in third. The circuit just kept getting faster and faster with each lap we did as more and more rubber went down, but that has made tyre choice quite difficult. We have a lot of data to go through after such a reliable day's running with all three cars, so there's a lot of work to be done this evening. I think the track is great; they've done a fantastic job with the layout."
"There are some nice undulations and the heavy braking zones mean it's quite difficult to string a clean lap together because you have to be careful not to overshoot on braking into the first gear corners and then concentrate on getting a clean exit. I think overtaking will be tough in the race; there are opportunities but its very dirty off-line. A good first day though and it looks like our car is going to be strong here. It's disappointing that I can't stay to race here myself!"
"The session was encouraging and I am relatively happy with the performance of the car. It was tough to do any testing in the sessions and work on set-up because the circuit kept changing and improving every lap. It will be difficult to know which tyres to choose but we are lucky that we run three cars and Anthony did a lot of laps, so we will go through all the data tonight and we should have more information about what will work best."
"I like the layout of the circuit. There are some really good high-speed corners and the low-speed corners are not just low speed 1st or 2nd gear corners; they actually have a bit of interest to them and you do have to work at them. On line, the circuit is really rubbering in, but it's very dusty off the circuit. If you run off the track there is so much dust and you lose a lot of time. I think that it will be pretty close competition this weekend, similar to Malaysia. If we are strong for the rest of the weekend then we will be fighting for a podium position, and definitely in the points. It's going to be very exciting."
"It has been a very good start for us considering this is a brand new circuit. We haven't experienced any major problems so have been able to do some good work with the tyres and set-up. The circuit is very interesting to drive and the track conditions changed considerably during the day. When we started out this morning it was very 'green' and dusty but it has improved a lot with the amount of running today."
"There was actually a lot of grip on the line towards the end of the day so I was able to keep improving my lap time. It was a shame that I lost six or seven tenths on what would have been my fastest lap of the day when I picked up debris from Alonso's Renault, so there is a lot more to come from me and the car here. Generally I'm pleased so far."
David Richards, Team Principal:
"Today has been a strong performance by the team, and in particular Anthony, who I was pleased to see finishing third on the time sheets. We knew that this would be a tough environment, with the heat and dust, but the way in which both Honda and the team have dealt with the challenge puts us in good shape for tomorrow. However, for me the real significance of today is the new Bahrain circuit, which has given us such a great new venue. It is an incredible facility and is a testament to the vision and hard work of all those involved in its completion."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"Everything went according to plan today, with all three drivers completing their programmed running. As expected the track conditions have changed quite significantly during the sessions; and it is always difficult to derive a clear set-up until the surface starts to become more consistent. Once again we have shown that we are competitive, with all three cars appearing in the top six throughout the sessions. Anthony has done a superb job, and including his feedback we should have all the information to make the right tyre choice for tomorrow."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"Overall it's been a good day for all three drivers. We've managed to complete a good number of laps, and as a result have been able to test a lot of different things, which is very important as this is the first time for everybody at the new Bahrain circuit."
Chassis: BAR Honda 006-03
Lap time: 1:31.879
Chassis: BAR Honda 006-01
Lap time: 1:32.680
Chassis: BAR Honda 006-02
Lap time: 1:31.488