The 2006 Formula 1 season began with two low-key practice sessions this afternoon at the Bahrain International Circuit. The new-for-2006 qualifying format requires teams to complete a larger number of laps than last year, and expectations that...
The 2006 Formula 1 season began with two low-key practice sessions this afternoon at the Bahrain International Circuit.
The new-for-2006 qualifying format requires teams to complete a larger number of laps than last year, and expectations that they would consequently limit their mileage on Friday proved well-founded as the front-running drivers completed around twenty laps during the day.
At Renault, the two sessions ran smoothly. After completing two installation laps in the morning, both drivers then ran identical programmes comprising one short run, and one longer run to assess the consistency of the R26. Track conditions were relatively low grip, and will improve throughout the weekend as teams complete more running.
Today also saw a significant anniversary for Renault F1 Team driver Giancarlo Fisichella. He started his first Grand Prix, in Australia for Minardi, exactly ten years ago today. The 2006 Bahraini Grand Prix will be race 162 for the Italian.
"We had a good first day. The track conditions will be changing a lot throughout the weekend, and I expect them to get a lot better because it was quite low grip today. The car feels like it did in winter testing: it is comfortable to drive and consistent, so I am quite happy with our situation."
"It was nice to get back to the emotion of the races today, to check the lap-times and to be back in competition. Also, it was a special moment to go out on the track this morning with the number 1 on the car. In terms of performance, we always see the third cars high on the timesheets on Friday, because they can use more revs and tyres than us. Even so, we are P5, so I think we can have a competitive weekend."
"This was a very normal Friday for us, with nothing unusual and no incidents. The car got better through the day as we ran more and made some changes to the set-up, and we are still feeling optimistic for the rest of the weekend. It is special to think back to ten years ago today, and starting my first race. Then, I was happy to be there, and now I am aiming for the title -- I have come a long way. But I don't think I have changed. Well, I am older of course, but stronger too!"
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"The new format of the weekend has seen teams take a variety of different approaches to their Friday running, but as we expected, the running was quite limited overall. I am not sure that we have yet seen the true state of play between the teams. At Renault, our day was quite straightforward, we achieved what we set out to, so we are satisfied."
Denis Chevrier, Head of Trackside Engine Operations:
"After analysing the demands of the new qualifying format, it was to be expected that teams would run fewer laps today in order to stay within the mileage limits they had established for their engines. Of course, the obvious exception to this is those teams that have the advantage of running with the third car."
"We didn't encounter any unexpected surprises at Renault, and our results tied in with the simulations we had conducted prior to arriving in Bahrain. The temperatures so far have been warm, but within our predicted levels, and the V8 has behaved impeccably. Overall it already felt like a 'normal' Friday's running.
15 laps total
16 laps total