Bahrain Grand Prix Technical Insight -- Q+A with Pascal Vasselon Did Timo's Australian accident cause you any technical problems with Sepang just five days later? Timo's chassis is being repaired in Cologne but there was minor damage really,...
Bahrain Grand Prix Technical Insight -- Q+A with Pascal Vasselon
Did Timo's Australian accident cause you any technical problems with Sepang just five days later?
Timo's chassis is being repaired in Cologne but there was minor damage really, mostly cosmetic, and most of the loads were taken by the suspension members. The suspension loads were really high but the chassis will be back on track soon. We flew out another chassis for the Malaysian race.
Does the Sepang pace bode well for the rest of the season?
Only statistics will tell the whole truth but what was most satisfying was that the level of competitiveness we had in Malaysia was exactly in line with the last pre--season test we did at Barcelona, whereas at Melbourne we were slightly down. Melbourne is known to show some performance anomalies; you see strange things in Melbourne which don't repeat later on in the season so we knew we had to be cautious about forming too many conclusions after Melbourne. In Australia we were not bad but we were certainly not as fast as we were in Malaysia.
Two consecutive 10 qualifying performances for Timo -- a good start?
It could hardly be much better in terms of qualifying. He is not a total rookie in Formula 1 but what he did with Jordan in 2004 is a long time ago. He has shown he can put in a fast lap when it's needed and that's what you hope for in a driver. To get through to Q3 in both races in such a competitive field was a very good achievement.
Timo again said he was having a problem getting the best out of the tyres?
It is something we have heard more and more this season in all the teams and it doesn't seem to be pace. It's a general comment that tyres can be difficult to bring into the right window, and this issue is certainly emphasised by the traction control ban this season.
Timo mentioned that he was using the softer option tyre well on Saturday morning but struggled with the prime in qualifying. Why was that?
It's quite logical that the prime is a little bit more difficult to handle simply because it is too hard for the conditions, it has good graining control but the lack of grip is apparent immediately; it is difficult to keep the tyre in its working window. So what Timo felt between the tyres was logical. The option was spot on at Sepang and so worked in its window and was easier to maintain there. But although the prime was not quite as good as the option, there were no outstanding issues beyond the lack of grip that you have to handle in the first laps. Unfortunately Timo did not get the chance to find out when his suspension was broken in the first--lap collision with Nico Rosberg.
Bahrain is next, were you happy with the TF108's performance there in pre--season testing?
I was very pleased with our winter testing in Bahrain for several reasons. We went there firstly because it is guaranteed to have decent weather and even though it wasn't extremely hot, the temperatures were reasonable which was good preparation for us. Also, the track itself is an interesting combination of slow--speed traction and a few high-speed corners, so we were able to make progress on the whole package in a representative window. It was where we made the first step in our development for 2008 in terms of set--up adaptation. We are quite optimistic about the Bahrain Grand Prix because we have a good starting point thanks to our test there.
Is the dust a factor in Bahrain?
When Bahrain was first on the calendar in 2004 the sun and the dust were major concerns and probably most of the teams did a lot of preparation for that in terms of filters and so on. We were expecting a lot of contamination of tyres but I think it's not a major problem. When we went to Bahrain in February, after half a day the track was okay and so we can't really say that the sand and dust are too much of a problem, although, of course, if you have high winds it can be worse.
It's tough on brakes, so is there potential for problems there?
It should not be a surprise anymore. Bahrain is severe on brakes but it is something which normally all teams are on top of because you do simulations and understand the requirements. You see immediately that the braking energy ranks in the top three or four circuits. It is not the hardest on the calendar, Montreal is still one step on, but you do have to be careful with cooling and wear.