MICHELIN STAYS ON TOP IN FIERCE DESERT HEAT World championship leader Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin) has taken provisional pole position for tomorrow& ...
MICHELIN STAYS ON TOP IN FIERCE DESERT HEAT
World championship leader Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin) has taken provisional pole position for tomorrows second Bahraini Grand Prix in Sakhir. With track temperatures consistently topping 50 degrees, the Spaniard was the last driver to venture out for todays single-lap shoot-out and his 1m 29.848s lap put him 0.145s clear of Jarno Trulli (Toyota/Michelin).
Defending world champion Michael Schumacher was third his best qualifying run of the campaign to date but Michelin drivers annexed the next 11 positions.
Nick Heidfeld (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) was fourth fastest ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), Mark Webber (BMW WilliamsF1 Team), Kimi Räikkönen (Team McLaren Mercedes), Christian Klien (Red Bull Racing), Pedro de la Rosa (Team McLaren Mercedes), Felipe Massa (Sauber-Petronas), Ralf Schumacher (Toyota), Jenson Button (B*A*R-Honda), Takuma Sato (B*A*R-Honda) and David Coulthard (Red Bull Racing).
Mark Webber (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) set the fastest time in this mornings final free practice sessions. He lapped in 1m 29.527s, 0.184s quicker than fellow Michelin driver Ralf Schumacher (Toyota).
Troubled Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello failed to take to the track this morning. Transmission problems sidelined the Brazilians new F2005 chassis yesterday and the team, which is short of spare parts for its latest car, did not want to expose the repaired unit to further risk.
Consequently, he had completed only a handful of laps of the track prior to the first qualifying session. After locking his brakes at Turn One, he emerged 15th fastest.
Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber/Michelin) compromised todays qualifying run when he ran off the track at the final corner. He ended the session in 16th position. Minardi driver Christijan Albers had a fresh engine fitted yesterday and his team- mate Patrick Friesacher followed suit this morning. Both are therefore due to have 10-position grid penalties imposed.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
Everything has gone to plan so far this weekend but the hardest part is yet to come, particularly if conditions remain this hot for tomorrows 57-lap race. Our main opposition has clearly upped its game, but Michelin and its partner teams have retained the competitive edge that has been apparent since the start of the season.
Between them, our seven partners have opted to race both available Michelin compounds and it will be interesting to see how they perform over a full race distance. Depending on circumstances, it is possible that some drivers might have to take care to preserve their rubber in the closing stages. Although temperatures are very similar to those at Sepang, the tracks are very different in terms of character. I anticipate that tyres will be subjected to some gruelling punishment."
Pat Symonds, executive director of engineering, Renault F1 Team:
In the extremely demanding conditions here in Bahrain, the first-lap and long-run performance of Michelins tyres is looking extremely good once again. Track temperatures in excess of 50 degrees place great demands on any tyre, but the two Michelin compounds we tried yesterday proved to be very competitive and we could almost have chosen either of them for the race.