Bahrain GP: McLaren preview

The 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix, which will take place this coming weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit, marks the first Formula One World Championship event in the Middle East. The West McLaren Mercedes team travels to the Sakhir region, some...

The 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix, which will take place this coming weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit, marks the first Formula One World Championship event in the Middle East. The West McLaren Mercedes team travels to the Sakhir region, some 25kms south of the Bahraini capital of Manama, to the 5.417km/3.366 mile circuit, which was officially opened on 17th March of this year.

David Coulthard:

"A new circuit adds an extra element to our preparation for a race, as we have not driven the track previously, but it provides another interesting challenge to the event and I am very much looking forward to the Bahrain Grand Prix. The first thing I will do when I arrive at the circuit is to go for a recce of the track with my engineers. Obviously we have done considerable preparation at the team headquarters, but this enables us to get a real understanding of exactly how tight an apex is or where the braking zone is for example."

"With any new event, there are of course factors that are tricky to understand until the race itself, and the main example with Bahrain is what impact the sand from the surrounding desert will have, I understand the organisers have taken measures to combat this but we shall have to wait and see what happens! Since Sepang the team has continued its test programme at Paul Ricard in the South of France with Alexander Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa at the wheel of two MP4-19's, completing some 2000 kilometres."

Kimi Raikkonen:

"The Bahrain Grand Prix has the potential to be another warm race due to its desert location, but nothing like the heat and the sapping humidity we had in Malaysia. From what I have seen and heard of the facilities at the circuit they are outstanding, and I am very interested to see what the track will be like to drive. My understanding of the circuit itself is that there are a good variety of challenges on the circuit, from the four long straights with real overtaking opportunities at the end and some fast sweeping sections at the back of the circuit."

"All this will hopefully make for interesting racing, and I reckon it will be a good race from the start as we will probably be able to pick-up quite a bit of speed along the main straight from the lights to the first corner, before braking hard as we all funnel into the tight right hander. Another possible overtaking opportunity is the left of turn two. I was in Dubai recently for a promotion and it was obvious that there is a real enthusiasm for motorsport in the region. Also, the track has been designed to be spectator friendly, so hopefully there will be a good atmosphere at the event. "

Martin Whitmarsh, Managing director, McLaren Racing:

"We started to move in the right direction with regards our competitiveness in Malaysia, however we are looking to make another performance gain at the Bahrain Grand Prix. We will arrive at the Bahrain International Circuit with a significant level of intelligence regarding the track and possible set-ups that we have generated using the CFD computer modelling tools provided by BAE SYSTEMS and running on Sun Microsystems Technical Computing Farms. These tools are of course of more importance at new circuits as we don't have the bank of data from previous events for the preparatory work at the factory."

"The organisers of the event have done an impressive job of preparing for the race, given that the official ground-breaking ceremony took place only 16 months ago. West McLaren Mercedes Technology Partner Siemens has played an integral role in this effort, providing the supporting infrastructure. This is essentially the specialist electronic systems in areas such as video, communications, signalling and timekeeping. The inaugural event in Bahrain marks an exciting foray for Formula One and West McLaren Mercedes as we take the sport to an interesting and emerging market."

Norbert Haug Vice president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"After the Grand Prix of Malaysia we tested at Paul Ricard with two cars with Alex Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa covering about 2000 kilometres on four days. Our clear target is to achieve absolute reliability in the races and practice sessions and to improve our lap times from race to race. The Bahrain Grand Prix is therefore a challenge in every respect."

"Presumably there will be hot temperatures, and we have to expect changing grip conditions, which might also be caused by the fine desert sand. Our simulations indicate that more than two thirds of each lap is run under full throttle. At the fastest part of the circuit the cars will reach a speed of about 320 km/h, at the slowest approximately 65 km/h. We are looking forward to Bahrain. Formula One will open a new chapter of its history on a highly modern state-of-the-art circuit."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Pedro de la Rosa , David Coulthard , Kimi Raikkonen , Alexander Wurz , Norbert Haug , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams Mercedes , McLaren