Robert Wickens Sets Pace in Free Practice Bahrain, 13 December. The inaugural Formula BMW World Final is now underway with the 35 drivers having their first taste of the state of the art Bahrain International Circuit today. The youngsters from...
Robert Wickens Sets Pace in Free Practice
Bahrain, 13 December. The inaugural Formula BMW World Final is now underway with the 35 drivers having their first taste of the state of the art Bahrain International Circuit today. The youngsters from the four Formula BMW Championships in Asia, Germany, the UK and the USA have had a total of two hours free practice each and it was Canada's Robert Wickens (Team Autotecnica) who set the fastest time of 1min 27.540secs.
The 16-year-old in his first year of single-seater racing was third in the 2005 Formula BMW USA Championship and in the Rookie Cup and recently won the Invitational Race at the Race of Champions in Paris. His comment was: "I love this track as it has a bit of everything and suits my driving style a hundred per cent. I am obviously very happy about getting the fastest lap of the day and hopefully we can keep up the momentum for tomorrow. At the end of the first session I was third, but the car was not quite to my liking. We made a couple of changes and obviously this helped a lot. We have a couple more changes to make and so I am hoping to go a little bit faster tomorrow. I want to thank BMW for the opportunity to come to the World Final and everyone who got me here."
While the Formula BMW Asia Championship supports the Bahrain Grand Prix at this track, this will be the first time these cars have raced on the 3.7 kilometre (2.29 mile) Paddock circuit. The circuit, which prides itself as being the home of motorsport in the Middle East, has chosen a very auspicious day to host this event. Friday is National Day in Bahrain and anyone arriving at the circuit with one of the kingdom's flags will be given free entry. This will ensure that the local drivers Salman Al Khalifa, the 2005 Formula BMW Asia Champion, and Hamed Al Fardan will get maximum support.
The conditions could not have been better for the sessions as, once dense early morning fog had cleared away, the day was warm and dry day with temperatures in the mid twenties Celsius. While the drivers are savouring for the first time the chance to pit themselves against their fellow competitors from round the world, every driver is focused on the ultimate prize - a test with the BMW Sauber F1 Team - which has already been described as the 'ultimate Christmas present'.
The event will include qualifying, six heats, a Pre-Final and the Final itself - a format that gives a quick driver who hits problems in a heat every chance to make amends in time to make waves in the Final.
At the start of the meeting, each driver will be allocated to one of two groups for practice and qualifying sessions. The fastest driver in each qualifying group will then go into a Super Pole shoot-out. The winner of that will start all three of his heats from pole. The drivers are divided into four groups for the six heats according to their qualifying positions within each of the original two groups. By the end of the six heats, each driver will have raced three times and each group will have raced against each of the other groups.
Heat winners gain zero points, with the rest scoring in accordance with their position: second receives two points, third three, and so on. All drivers qualify directly in the Pre-Final. The grid for this race will be determined according to the driver's scores from the heat results. The driver with the lowest score will take the pole position. The Pre-Final will give all the drivers who had bad luck in their heats the chance to move up the grid for the Final, as the finishing order of the Pre-Final will set the grid for the Final.