MICHELIN PARTNERS ON STORMING FORM IN THE DESERT Michelin drivers set the pace in the opening two free practice sessions as teams prepared for the third round of this year& ...
MICHELIN PARTNERS ON STORMING FORM IN THE DESERT
Michelin drivers set the pace in the opening two free practice sessions as teams prepared for the third round of this years Formula One world championship in the desert setting of Sakhir, Bahrain.
McLaren reserve Alexander Wurz promoted to a Friday test role after an injury to Juan Pablo Montoya forced the team to shuffle its line-up set the days fastest lap. He posted a 1m 30.695s in the heat of the afternoon, when track temperatures topped 50 degrees.
Ricardo Zonta (Toyota, 1m 31.449s) was quickest in the morning and second overall. Michelin drivers filled nine of the top ten positions on aggregate. World championship leader Fernando Alonso (Renault) was third fastest from Vitantonio Liuzzi (Red Bull, fifth), Pedro de la Rosa (Team McLaren Mercedes, sixth), Jarno Trulli (Toyota, seventh), Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault, eighth) Kimi Räikkönen (Team McLaren Mercedes, ninth) and Jenson Button (B*A*R-Honda, 10th).
Wurz set the days fastest time despite having missed a substantial chunk of this mornings first session, when he was sidelined by a technical problem.
Defending world champion Ferrari is using two different chassis this weekend, as it attempts to claw back ground lost in the opening two rounds of the world championship. Team leader Michael Schumacher is driving the latest F2005 chassis while team-mate Rubens Barrichello persists with the older F2004. Barrichello did not participate in todays second session, because of gearbox trouble.
Christijan Albers was briefly unable to rejoin the circuit this morning, after running wide at Turn Nine. His Minardi slithered into the support race pit lane from which there was no way out. The Dutchman had to wait for marshals to create an escape route by removing a series of cones that blocked his path.
Motor racings governing body the FIA has announced that F1s technical regulations will continue unchanged until the end of 2007. The rule that places no limit on the number of competing tyre manufacturers will remain in force until at least 2008.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
The Bahrain International Circuit has evolved considerably since we last raced here 12 months ago. In 2004 the surface was very abrasive, which is typical for a new circuit, but this year it is much less so -- if anything, the degree of change has taken us slightly by surprise."
We have completed a number of valid comparison runs throughout the day, particularly this afternoon, but will have to pore over the data very carefully before any definitive tyre choices are made."
"The track has definitely become faster as the day has progressed and we need to analyse its probable short-term evolution very carefully. From what we have seen so far, though, it is conceivable that our prime and option tyres will both be used in Sundays race. Both have performed extremely well so far.