Bahrain GP: Jaguar preview

Jaguar Racing has been working hard preparing for the third round of the FIA Formula One World Championship which is due to take place at the inaugural 2004 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit next weekend. After a ...

Jaguar Racing has been working hard preparing for the third round of the FIA Formula One World Championship which is due to take place at the inaugural 2004 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit next weekend. After a frustrating start to their Malaysian Grand prix last weekend the team is keen to highlight the reliability of the R5 as well as its performance pace on track, which was made so evident in Sepang when Mark qualified on the first row of the grid in second position alongside the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher.

Mark Webber (27) and Christian Klien (21) have both remained in Asia and will travel to Dubai directly to participate in sponsor and media activities prior to arriving at the track in Bahrain. Björn Wirdheim has returned to the UK to take part in a one-day test at Santa Pod today, Friday 26th March working mainly on the starting process of the R5 in order to understand and learn from the disappointing starts that were suffered by both drivers on the grid in Sepang.

Mark Webber:

"I am frustrated that I have yet to finish a race, but it is not through a lack of trying by myself or the team. The R5 was four seconds a lap faster round the Sepang track than it was last year so our hard work over the past year is certainly paying off. Progress at this level does not happen overnight, but we are starting to see the rewards of our winter testing programme and although we are still learning we are so far ahead versus where we were last year. I am really looking forward to this next race, a new track, new conditions and quite a few unknowns for us."

"I have been doing lots of training in high temperatures and after the humidity of Sepang we are in good shape, both from a driver's point of view and from a cooling point of view on the car. Björn is testing at Santa Pod this week so we are proactively addressing the areas where we were disappointing in Malaysia. I am confident that the team will take steps forward between now and Bahrain and our goal for the weekend will be to be competitive and to highlight the continuous improvement of the R5. "

Christian Klien:

"Two races and two finishes, this is what I was aiming for so I am really pleased with my progress and that of the teams. The race in Malaysia was tough but to have finished both is testament to the reliability of the R5 and the effort of the guys back in the factory at Milton Keynes and Northampton. After the race I felt good, and all my training is paying off, and of course this will stand me in good stead for the heat of Bahrain."

"Looking ahead, my third race is going to be good fun as this will be the first time that it is really an even playing field for us from a driver's point of view. None of us have raced there so I am going to give it my all and see what happens. The track is likely to be quite dusty but until we get out on track on Friday we won't really know how things are going to progress. Although the engineers have been preparing as best they can, there is no substitute for the real thing!"

Björn Wirdheim:

"I am really enjoying my role with the team and it is really satisfying to know that your work on the Friday is paying dividends for the team over the Saturday and Sunday. Malaysia was a good weekend for us in terms of gathering data and the tyre work that I did was crucial in deciding our choice for the race. Today I am testing for the team at Santa Pod to work specifically on our starts and I know that the guys back at the factory in Milton Keynes have been working flat out on the data so that we can move forward in time for Bahrain."

"Bahrain is going to be a very busy race for us in terms of data gathering on the Friday and I am looking forward to the challenge. The dust is likely to play a role over the course of the weekend but it will be interesting to see how this affects the track and in turn the tyres and engine. Either way I know that we will be giving it our best shot and I am excited about getting back out on track"

Dr Mark Gillan - Head of Vehicle Performance:

"As this is a new track for everyone the FIA have supplied us with some data that we are completing simulations from. It's very difficult to know how accurate our data will be but of course we are in the same situation as the majority of teams so it should be a level playing field from the start in terms of circuit and tyre information. From the simulations we have been working on our set-up on the car and of course our aerodynamics package. Braking and fuel levels are additional factors that we need to consider and although we are doing what we can in simulation we really need to get out on track on Friday and test as much as we can."

"Having the third car at the new races really pays dividends for us. We will be using Bjorn to work on tyres on the Friday, as this will help us in making our decision in time for Saturday. Our cooling system worked very well in Sepang and again this is vital especially in the extreme heat of Bahrain. Christian has been doing a really good job to date and this will be an interesting race for him as he will be in the same boat as everyone else in terms of track knowledge. I think that the race is going to be really exciting and as this is our first new track in some time, it's going to add some excitement and no doubt there will be a few surprises over the course of the weekend and especially during the race."

David Pitchforth - Managing Director:

"The third race is probably going to be one of the most interesting yet. It is going to be one of the few times that just about all of the teams have no real track data to work from. We have been working hard on the data that we were supplied with by the FIA but this is never as good as your own records from previous years. I understand that the track is going to be quite dusty and it will be interesting to see how it cleans up over the weekend and how this affects the tyres. The surface is the biggest unknown but we like a challenge! The characteristics of the track sound intriguing and I know that all three of the drivers are excited about getting out there and giving it a shot."

"We will be looking to take our race pace with us to Bahrain, and we know we have a competitive package that we need to get to the finishing line. Christian and Mark have been doing a sterling job to date and with the added bonus of Bjorn we are continuously improving. Thanks to our engineering led approach we have seen some real steps forward in pace and now we will be focusing on some fine tuning in preparation for the third race."

-jaguar-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Mark Webber , Bjorn Wirdheim , Christian Klien
Teams Ferrari , Jaguar Racing