Following Felipe Massa's run to a world championship point in the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix, Team Sauber Petronas moves on to Bahrain for the inaugural Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, the third round of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship...
Following Felipe Massa's run to a world championship point in the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix, Team Sauber Petronas moves on to Bahrain for the inaugural Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, the third round of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship on 4 April.
Willy Rampf (Technical Director):
"Obviously Bahrain is a new circuit, so all we really know about it is from the lap simulation we have done with our advanced simulation programme. This simulation has given us a good base for our initial set-up so we should be well prepared. We have a basic value for things such as downforce, brake set-up, and gear ratios for example. As we are expecting ambient temperatures of 30 degrees C and more, together with the same sort of 50 degree track temperatures that we saw recently in Sepang, maximum engine cooling will be required."
"Bahrain has a wide variety of corners. There is a tight right turn at the end of the pit straight; some esses on the infield; and a high-speed corner in the final sector. The biggest unknown factor will be the track surface. Nobody knows what to expect, so it is hard at this stage to predict grip and tyre wear levels. These may also be influenced further by the sand, especially if there are local sandstorms. The effect would be a slippery and abrasive track surface. The sand could also affect the engine and other components, such as wheel bearings, seals and composite suspension components."
"I anticipate that the circuit will place similar demands on the drivers to Sepang. For this race we will have the first fruits of our development programme in the new wind tunnel in Hinwil ready to try on the Sauber Petronas C23."
Giancarlo Fisichella (125 GPs):
"I have no idea quite what to expect in Bahrain. But I enjoy going to new countries and cities, and of course to new F1 circuits. I have heard that there are some good places to overtake on the Bahrain International Circuit, though it could be a bit slippery, like Zandvoort in Holland."
"I am quite happy with the way the Sauber Petronas C23 has been progressing, and we are continuing to learn a lot about the car. So I'm hoping that we can qualify and race well here."
Felipe Massa (18GPs, 1 point 2004):
"I have heard that the Bahrain circuit is really nice, and it's new for everyone so it will be really interesting this weekend. We'll all have to learn the track at the same time. We have made a simulation for the track, of course, but we cannot be absolutely sure of the set-up, so there will be much work to do on Friday.
"I always love going to different places. It was fun going to Borneo recently with the Sauber Petronas C23 - the people there had never seen an F1 car before so they were going crazy. It was really amazing, and this weekend I think will be similar. Having scored the team's first point in 2004 in Sepang, I'm looking forward to gaining some more in Bahrain."
*In the morning of Thursday, 1 April, both Sauber Petronas drivers will get close to their fans again. After they visited a falcon farm they will give autographs to their fans at the Seef shopping mall in Manama. The highlight for the fans will certainly be an interview with the drivers as well as a Formula One competition. The lucky winner will get the chance to visit the Formula One paddock and meet the Sauber Petronas team on Sunday just before the race start.