SYNOPSIS After minor reliability issues had compromised track time and thereby the optimisation of set-up two weeks before in Malaysia, the AT&T Williams team came to Bahrain with a clear ambition to manage their weekend preparations without...
After minor reliability issues had compromised track time and thereby the optimisation of set-up two weeks before in Malaysia, the AT&T Williams team came to Bahrain with a clear ambition to manage their weekend preparations without undue interruption. This goal was met, with both cars having a full 180 minutes of potential track time in the Friday sessions. Between the morning and afternoon sessions, significant set-up changes were made to both Kazuki's and Nico's car and by the close of the first day of the meeting, both drivers declared themselves satisfied with the progress made.
On Saturday morning Nico Rosberg, running on new tyres and low fuel, was able to set the fastest time of the session, but it was understood that on a longer run the competitiveness required to be at the top of the time sheets would be much more of a challenge.
Qualifying was relatively straightforward tactically, with no interruptions or flags that required run plans to be altered on the fly. Rosberg held station in P8 in all three qualifying sessions, somewhat less competitive than perhaps both driver and team had hoped for given the morning practice. By the time fuel had been added for Q3, Nico's Q2 time that would have given him pole increased by almost two seconds and he would line up on the fourth row of the grid on Sunday.
Kazuki, by his own admission, was disappointed by his qualifying form, albeit that in only his fourth race it would have been difficult to progress into Q3 when his more experienced team mate had managed to finish the day in only P8.
Based on the qualifying outcome, the strategists elected to send Kazuki on a one-stop strategy and Nico on a more conventional two-stop plan for the race. Unfortunately for Nakajima, his anti-stall system kicked in off the line and relegated him down towards the back of the field. Trying to recover his poor start, he hit the oil on lap two which caused a number of drivers problems in the early part of the first stint. Rosberg claimed a place from the start and held P7 until the first round of stops where he was unfortunately jumped by Webber in the Red Bull. This was due to Webber having a free choice of pit strategy after starting outside the top 10, and then getting past Alonso following the Renault driver's clash with Hamilton. Knowing that, it would have been better to have run longer in the first stint, but that decision is made on Saturday afternoon if you're in the top 10. Ultimately, Rosberg claimed a point finishing in eighth, while Kazuki pitted on his one stop plan on lap 32 and ran to the flag to finish fourteenth.
TYRES & FUEL
Stop 1: lap 17, stop 2: lap 40
Stop 1: lap 32
SYSTEMS & RELIABILITY
The team's two FW30s ran reliably throughout all the sessions in Sakhir. Both cars ran new engines for the Bahrain Grand Prix and both completed their third race in succession on the same transmission (regulatory requirement is to complete four races in a row).
The team will travel to Barcelona next week for a four day test commencing on Monday 14th April. Kazuki Nakajima will run on days one and four, with team mate Nico Rosberg undertaking testing duties on days two and three. The team will use the test to validate a number of new developments, both aero and mechanical, to come to the car for the start of the European season.
"Although we managed to avoid any reliability issues compromising our preparation, this will remain a watching brief for obvious reasons. There is no room for complacency with reliability. Our focus as always is on improving performance and that's what we are doing now we are back in Europe. We have a good number of new releases coming to the car for the start of the European season which we will test in Barcelona next week."