The opening day of preparations for this weekend's inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix turned out to be a distinctly positive one for Wilux Minardi Cosworth drivers, Zsolt Baumgartner and Gianmaria Bruni, as well as for the Faenza squad's test and...
The opening day of preparations for this weekend's inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix turned out to be a distinctly positive one for Wilux Minardi Cosworth drivers, Zsolt Baumgartner and Gianmaria Bruni, as well as for the Faenza squad's test and reserve driver, Bas Leinders. Despite a predictably dusty surface, which adversely affected grip levels in the opening morning practice session, the track improved markedly during the afternoon.
Unfortunately, yellow-flag incidents and "traffic" prevented Bruni and Leinders from extracting the most from their cars on what should have been their quickest laps. Nonetheless, by the end of Friday's second one-hour session, all three men felt they had achieved a good handling balance for their cars around the demanding 5.417-km Bahrain International Circuit. Ultimately, though, the efforts of all the Formula One teams present here today were relegated to the shade by the grandeur and sheer magnitude of Formula One's new "home" in the Middle East.
"The track was very slippery initially and that was why we were struggling for traction -- but then, it was the same for everybody. We were able to find a good balance as the day went on, though, and we ended up with a reasonable time. To be in front of one or two other cars is definitely satisfying. We spent quite a bit of time altering the car during the two sessions, as the track was changing all the time. We improved steadily, though, and hopefully, that will continue tomorrow. All told, we have had a positive day."
"We found a good chassis balance today, and although I wasn't able to set my best possible time on soft tyres as the result of traffic problems in the second session, I think we should be fine for tomorrow. The track itself is very good, and despite the surface being dirty earlier, it got better as the day wore on. I like the layout very much and look forward to a good performance tomorrow."
"I'm very happy with my second weekend as Minardi's Test and Reserve Driver. We completed our technical programme today, and speaking personally, I feel we have improved quite a bit between the last race weekend, in Malaysia, and this event. Certainly, I feel I know the car a lot better. It was also good, in similar conditions, to set a fastest lap today that was not too far away from the two race drivers. I'm happy with the effort from the team, and I have a very good feeling for the rest of the season."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, Wilux Minardi Cosworth:
"We're very pleased with our first day's work on this magnificent new track. The facilities in Bahrain really have set a new standard to which other F1 facilities will have to aspire. All three Minardi drivers put in an excellent performance today. I'm particularly pleased with Zsolt's last run, but feel for Gimmi and Bas, both of whom had their potentially quickest laps adversely affected by traffic and incidents. The drivers all completed their technical programmes, and we now look forward to an exciting weekend here in Bahrain."
Chassis: PS04B/01 (No.21)
Best lap: 1 min 34.054 secs
Chassis: PS04B/02 (No.20)
Best lap: 1 min 34.791 secs
BAS LEINDERS, Test Driver
Chassis (spare): PS04B/04
Best lap: 1 min 36.248 secs