Positives and negatives at Sakhir

Positives and negatives at Sakhir

Just a few days after the highs and lows of Malaysia the next race weekend is already here and for some drivers the first stop in Bahrain was Thursday's FIA press conference. So who's upbeat and who's a bit glum? McLaren's rookie sensation Lewis...

Just a few days after the highs and lows of Malaysia the next race weekend is already here and for some drivers the first stop in Bahrain was Thursday's FIA press conference. So who's upbeat and who's a bit glum? McLaren's rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton was in the line up and, after third then second places in the first two events, he was asked if he feels close to his maiden F1 victory.

FIA press conference: Heikki Kovalainen, Renault F1 Team, Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber F1 Team, Jarno Trulli, Toyota Racing, Felipe Massa, Scuderia Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes.
Photo by xpb.cc.

"I think that's a difficult question to answer," he commented. "I think you have to keep things in perspective. Yes, I have had two podium finishes but I am still a rookie, I still have a lot to learn. I know it may not particularly look like it but there's a huge amount for me to learn from Fernando, from the team, different tracks that I haven't been to."

"There's going to be some major challenges for me this year that can take me by surprise or I might be fortunate enough to prepare for them better than other people may have and it might go smoothly. I'm pushing, I'm working as hard as I can. It may be this weekend, it may be the last race of the year, it may be next year. It's difficult to know."

Felipe Massa took his maiden with Ferrari last year and impressed many with his increasingly mature performances, ending the season with a second victory in his home country of Brazil. However, a poor start then a mistake in Malaysia last weekend, which lost him the chance to fight for the win, has bought the critics back out.

Massa admitted the bad start was a problem but shrugged off the criticism about his error. "I had a chance to try to pass Lewis and I'm not disappointed that I tried," he said. "I couldn't manage it, but that wasn't the worst point of the race. That was definitely the start. We see in racing that it's very hard to pass and most drivers were sitting behind other cars without any chance to overtake. I saw a chance and I tried."

For this weekend Massa is feeling positive. "We had a very good test here at the start of the season and had a good pace. The car was behaving quite well. That's a positive. I think we have a good car, a good package and a good team. If something was missing in the first two races, well, it was only two races and there is still a long way to go. Hopefully we can put everything together to be successful next time."

Renault's Heikki Kovalainen has had a difficult start to his rookie season. There were high expectations for the Finn but he had a rather erratic race in Australia and didn't perform as expected. Last weekend he opened his scorecard with one point in eighth place but Renault is off the pace of the front runners and Kovalainen is not expecting much better in Bahrain.

"In one week I think not, unless there has been a miracle we don't know about," he replied when asked if the car's problems had been cured. "Clearly we are behind the top pace and obviously we are not happy about that. The whole factory is trying to understand the cause, but this weekend the gap to the leaders will be about the same. Hopefully, though, we'll score points again."

Another who started the season with expectations upon him was BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica, but he too has struggled. After his debut mid-season in 2006 when he made quite an impression, Kubica failed to finish in Melbourne due to a gearbox issue. At Sepang it went wrong from the race outset after a first corner bump caused aero damage and he eventually finished 18th.

"Well, there is a problem and I think everyone in our team realises there is a rear-axle problem, which we hope to resolve because it has cost me quite a lot of points in the opening two Grands Prix," was Kubica's explanation. "I finished in Malaysia but at a really slow pace. The car was really difficult to drive -- it wasn't possible to get it stopped before any of the corners."

Sakhir hasn't previously been a good track for Toyota, something that Jarno Trulli acknowledged, and the Cologne-based outfit experienced quite a few reliability issues during testing. Trulli is fairly satisfied with the start to the season -- he scored two points with seventh at Sepang -- but it's clear to see there's a lot of work to be done.

"We can be happy about the general job we've done, but obviously we need to look forward over the whole season and we need to develop the car if we want to get better results," said the Italian. "(The team) has the potential and the resources are there. We need to see what we can do because the gap to the top teams is quite big and we need to close it."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Heikki Kovalainen , Robert Kubica
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Toyota Racing , Renault F1 Team