Renault's Jarno Trulli looks back over the first Bahrain Grand Prix "Wow! That was the first impression when we got to the circuit in Bahrain. It is just an incredible venue, and everything is tailor-made for the teams: without a doubt, it is a...
Renault's Jarno Trulli looks back over the first Bahrain Grand Prix
"Wow! That was the first impression when we got to the circuit in Bahrain. It is just an incredible venue, and everything is tailor-made for the teams: without a doubt, it is a peek into the future of the sport. The circuit itself was maybe a little disappointing from a driving point of view, because there are no real fast corners, but it was still a big challenge for us: getting to know a circuit, and understanding how it will change during a race weekend, is often very tricky for the teams. What's more, the tight corners meant braking performance would be critical."
"Friday was all about learning: the drivers had to discover the circuit, and start to understand where we could find time, what the little tricks were for going quick. For the engineers, the challenge was to assess how the tyres were working, to evaluate the car's handling and also not to get confused -- a brand new circuit changes a lot during the first laps, and grip levels are always improving. That means that you can go quicker after you have made a set-up change, but actually have made the car worse, so you have to be very careful to distinguish between these two possibilities."
"Friday didn't go so well for me, in fact. We had a water leak in the first session, then an engine problem in the second. As soon as I realised there was something wrong, we switched the engine off to make sure it didn't do any more damage. It was a relief when we learned that the engine didn't need to be changed because this year, as soon as that happens you lose ten places on the grid. In fact, a problem with a fuel injector had stopped the engine but you can still change these parts within the rules, and not be penalised, so in the end, it was better for that kind of problem to happen on Friday than Sunday. I finished the day in 18th, but was optimistic because the car felt good."
"On Saturday, the grip levels on the circuit continued improving all the time and we picked up some performance. We carried on improving the set-up, but the car remained a little nervous; however, we decided we could live with it and prepared for qualifying. Pre-qualifying gave us a rough idea of where we could expect to be, and during the full session, I got a pretty clean lap in. I finished seventh, which maybe didn't seem great, but we know that the car is good at the start, and there was a big gap behind us. We left the circuit on Saturday evening safe in the knowledge that although we were at the back of the leading group, we felt we were competitive with them."
"Sunday dawned with completely different conditions: it was raining, cloudy and windy -- hardly what you expect from the desert! However, by the start of the race things had cleared up and although the circuit temperatures weren't as high as earlier in the weekend, it did at least stay dry. I made a good start, but things were very congested at the first corner: I made up a couple of places, but then Ralf got by. However, when he collided with Sato, I jumped to fourth and started chasing Montoya."
"Through the first three stints the car was absolutely perfect: I was able to push Montoya, catching him by as much as a second a lap, but there was never quite time to get all the way up to him before having to stop. However, when I made my last stop, I came out behind one of the Jordans and that really held me up -- Jenson Button had been very close just before the stop, and he got past because of that. I gained another place when Montoya slowed, but I could not catch Jenson: the car just wasn't as quick as it had been earlier in the race. So we finished fourth: a good result, but not quite as good as it could have been..."
"Ultimately, I'm a bit disappointed: things could have been better, and that podium was just so close. But then, when you think about it, the situation at the moment is fantastic: Renault is second in the championship, and our reliability has been faultless so far. Our aim for the start of the season was to score points in the first three races by staying reliable, and we have done that. Even more, we know that results could have been even better, so there is plenty of room to improve. We have two big test sessions in the next fortnight, using the R24 in a test for the first time since February, plus there are developments for Imola. Motivation in the team is very high right now: things are looking very good for the European season!"