2006 Bahrain Grand Prix - Race 1/18

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Bahrain Preview: Honda

The Honda Racing F1 Team makes its racing debut as a Honda works team this weekend as the Kingdom of Bahrain hosts the curtain-raiser to the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship. The F1 fraternity is set to chart a rather different course around the globe this year as Melbourne, the traditional home of the season-opener, plays host to the Commonwealth Games.

So the focus switches to the Middle East and the challenging Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, where the machinations of winter testing will finally play out to reveal the class of the 2006 field. The team's driver line-up of Rubens Barrichello (No. 11) and Jenson Button (No. 12) will be racing together for the first time, supported by third driver Anthony Davidson, who will be looking to emulate his star performances from the 2004 season as he returns to the Friday testing role.

An intensive winter testing programme with the RA106 and the Concept car has seen the Honda Racing F1 Team complete 27,000 kms of testing at the Barcelona, Jerez and Valencia circuits in Spain and, in preparation for the first race, at the Bahrain International Circuit in February, where the team spent four days honing its tyres and set-up to the demands of the arid desert conditions. Since its launch on 25 January, the RA106 has covered over 14,700 kms and demonstrated encouraging performance and good reliability.

Rubens Barrichello: "It's really exciting for me to be racing for the very first time as a Honda Racing F1 Team driver. Since I have joined the team at the start of the year, it has been a very intense period of working hard on the test track and with the engineers. We have covered an incredible amount of laps and have been able to establish good reliability as well as improve the pace of the car. For me, our most important test was in Bahrain last month where we could work on the set-up of the car in the hot weather we will face this weekend and also complete a lot of laps, which really helped my physical conditioning. I feel very much at home with the team now and I can't wait for the first race of the new season, where I believe we will be very competitive."

Jenson Button: "Our pre-season testing programme has been extremely positive. The RA106 was strong and reliable from the start which has enabled us to complete plenty of mileage and given me the confidence to push the development from an early stage. I tried to complete as much testing as possible over the winter, which is reflected by the amount of kilometres I have driven. I have also been training hard and feel mentally and physically stronger than ever before. The Bahrain International Circuit is a great track and I enjoy racing here. There are several overtaking opportunities which always makes things exciting and the fast flowing sections are great. Testing in Bahrain in February was hugely beneficial for us and we are the only Michelin team to have tested the tyres and our car in the hot conditions prior to the race. I think that we have a really competitive package, and although this is the first time we will really see where we are compared to the other teams, I hope to be challenging for wins. I can't wait for the racing to begin this weekend."

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "As the numbers show, we have had a very productive testing programme since the end of the 2005 season. This included a successful four day test in Bahrain itself, where we encountered conditions which we hope will be similar this weekend. We have experienced a high level of reliability with the Concept car and the new RA106, which in turn helped us develop our package further. The RA106 has certainly shown a lot of promise in terms of speed in the hands of our three drivers and it is fair to say that all of us at the Honda Racing F1 Team are really excited and looking forward to the race in Bahrain, where we will find out how we truly measure up against our competition."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development: "We are all very excited at the prospect of finally seeing exactly where we stand against the other Formula One teams. It's nearly forty years since we had a full Honda works team in Formula One, and we have good reason to expect a strong start to the season after a promising winter testing programme."
 
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Bahrain Preview: WilliamsF1

The Gulf state of Bahrain will play host to the opening round of this year's FIA Formula One World Championship while the traditional hosts of the opening race, Melbourne, busy themselves with the Commonwealth Games. The race will be the debut for the team's new recruit, Nico Rosberg, who in preparation has recorded close to 7,000km of testing over 27 car days since his appointment as a team driver last November. In addition, Alex Wurz, the team's recently appointed test and reserve driver, will take up his Friday testing role for the team on the Sakhir circuit. The race is also the debut for a fundamentally new car from a fortified design team as well as representing the team's new partnerships with Cosworth and Bridgestone.

Following the end of the winter testing ban, the WilliamsF1 Team commenced testing, initially with the interim FW27C chassis before the 2006 race car, the FW28, debuted at the end of January. Since November 28, the team has completed 42 days of testing at three circuits across Spain and covered a total of nearly 17,000kms. Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg, Alex Wurz, Narain Karthikeyan and Andy Priaulx all contributed to the team's intensive development preparations with the five drivers jointly recording 126 days of track time.

Reflecting both a response to the widespread regulation changes for 2006 and to progress a clear design philosophy, the FW28 is a clean sheet design with little reference to its antecedent. The primary points of distinction aerodynamically are the zero keel layout of the front suspension geometry and the decambered rear wing tips, while from a drivetrain perspective, the new Cosworth CA V8 is clearly a step change not just in technology but also in an engineering partnership. Closely allied to the engine is a seven speed semi-auto seamless shift gearbox, now fully validated and race fit. Of course all onboard technology is reliant on the critical medium of the tyre, and here again a significant change has been made in the shift to Bridgestone rubber and the regulation alteration to re-sanction tyre stops for the 2006 season.

With the desert as its backdrop, Bahrain presents its own very particular challenge. Drifting sand poses one of the greatest variables over the weekend, with tailing cars sandblasted by those in front. As a consequence, heavy duty air filters are essential, despite compromising absolute aerodynamic efficiency. Grip levels are also affected by sand drifting onto the track, making the surface slippery off-line. All of this conspires to make good, stable set-up an important confidence variable for the driver.

5.412km in length, the Sakhir circuit comprises three long straights, joined by a complex mix of 15 slow and medium speed turns. The large number of resulting braking events, from speeds of up to 315kph down to first gear in some corners, demands strict brake wear management by the drivers and, critically, sufficient cooling capability. With 62% of each lap spent in full throttle, Bahrain is also one of the most testing tracks for engine reliability that the teams will experience all year.

Mark Webber: "Usually the first race of the season is at home in Australia, so the start of this year's Championship has a very different feel about it for me, and it's certainly a much quieter start than I'm used to! After all the pre-season testing and guessing games, I don't think there'll be a driver on the grid who's not looking forward to getting down to what it's all about, and that's pitching yourself against everyone else. Race weekends are absolutely brilliant, we have our practice sessions, qualifying and the race and there can be no excuses at the end of it. You just have to get the maximum result possible for your team and yourself. The first race always has an extra buzz because it delivers the answers to those unresolved questions from pre-season testing. I'm looking forward to seeing where we're at and to see what the first part of the season may bring for Williams. Bahrain can't come quick enough!"

Nico Rosberg: "After so much testing, its going be good to finally race and it will be very interesting to see where we are compared with the others teams. I'm very confident, though, as the recent tests have been going well for me and I feel very much at home in the car. I am looking forward to my first Formula One race, especially because it's on a track that I really enjoy and one that I have had great success at having won the GP2 Championship there last year."

Sam Michael, Technical Director, WilliamsF1: "The first race is one of the most exciting for everyone, mainly because we all want to know how competitive everyone is. This year, in particular, has been even harder to predict due to the change to V8 engines. From our perspective, the FW28 has been competitive in testing and is well prepared for racing.

The Bahrain circuit has long straights and slow speed corners and this drives the importance of a good aerodynamic efficiency (i.e., load to drag ratio) to a higher level, even more so in 2006 with the V8 engine. While Bahrain is still a high downforce circuit, minimising drag is important and we should see around 315kph on the pit straight. Both times we have raced in Bahrain there was plenty of overtaking, so it is clearly a track that presents plenty of opportunities for exciting racing.

Once again, we have a new practice and qualifying system that will significantly alter race strategy. There will be less practice mileage, but much more running in qualifying with a new, unlimited laps knockout system. The first two segments will be run on low fuel and everyone will be balancing how many new sets of tyres they have to use to make it through to the next round, which is bound to be exciting the first time we do it! In fact, if all the cars are on the track at the same time there will be a car about every four seconds.

We have been working hard over the winter on gearbox reliability and also on the new V8 engine with Cosworth. Tyre issues have undergone considerable change, with tyre changes allowed during the race again. This has reduced the importance of wear rates and changed the tyre development direction that we have followed with Bridgestone.

Finally, our drivers are all well prepared. Mark is as fired up as usual and putting a lot of effort in, while Nico has covered the greatest distance out of all our drivers over the winter so he couldn't be better prepared for his first season in Formula One. Alex has contributed an enormous amount to our programme over the winter and we will be relying heavily on him during race weekends to evaluate tyres and set-up change on Fridays."

Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth: "Cosworth has made significant progress with the development of the new CA2006 V8 engine since the initial dyno tests. Ambitious performance and reliability targets have been set throughout the V8 programme and everyone at Cosworth has been working flat out to achieve these goals. We have worked closely with Williams and have established a great relationship with the team during the demanding winter test programme. Bahrain will be the first opportunity to really see how Cosworth and Williams stand relative to the competition with the new generation V8s."
 
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Bahrain Preview: Toyota

For the millions of die-hard Formula One fans around the world, the last five months have been some kind of purgatory. But the waiting and the withdrawal symptoms will soon be over. This weekend the circus is coming back to town – or rather a tarmac oasis in the middle of the desert. To the relief of everyone who revels in the scream of engines, the smell of oil and the colour of the grid, the Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir will open the 2006 F1 season. Panasonic Toyota Racing arrives in the Middle East buoyed up from its winter test programme and looking to start the season in style. Jarno Trulli made the podium at last year's Bahrain Grand Prix while Ralf Schumacher made the podium at the last race of 2005 so both will be hoping for a repeat as Toyota bids for a strong start to its new campaign.

Ralf Schumacher is looking forward to the heat of Bahrain after a cold winter of testing.

Ralf Schumacher: "It's always nice to return to racing after the long winter break. Of course we will have to wait and see how the first couple of races go before we can truly compare our position to the others. But we hope to take some points in the first few races and take it from there. Our whole winter test programme has been targeting reliability and that is what we will need early in the season. We've been working with the TF106 since November so we've had plenty of time to put mileage on all the mechanical parts. The tests have gone well and both the car and the new V8 engine have run reliably so we should be confident heading to Sakhir, which is a great modern facility. Bahrain will be hot but at this time of year it should not be exceptional. Either way, all the teams have so much experience that the heat shouldn't make any difference from a technical point of view. So let's hope it's nice and warm. After a winter in Europe, that would be very welcome..."

Jarno Trulli hopes to continue his happy run of form in the Middle East's only grand prix venue.

Jarno Trulli: "I've only had good results when I've raced in Bahrain, particularly last year when I made the podium in second place. I had never been to the area before the race arrived on the calendar but Bahrain is incredible as an F1 venue. The facilities are state-of-the-art, much like Malaysia and China, and it has treated me well so far! It would be wonderful to achieve something similar again, so that is why everyone at Toyota has worked all winter to be as prepared as possible for this first grand prix of the year. The new season brings new challenges in every area. There are lots of new factors – the V8 engine, our Bridgestone tyres and of course the new qualifying system where cars will be eliminated during the session. That will be a bit more complicated than last year but it still boils down to producing a quick lap just when it matters. I'm confident that the TF106 can deliver strong results, but as ever we will only find out when we get on track with everyone this weekend."

This weekend the desert will reverberate with the sound of the new engine of Formula 1, the V8.

Mike Gascoyne – Technical Director Chassis: "Bahrain is an exciting track with great facilities for the teams and spectators. It is a challenging place to start the year because the circuit is probably the hardest for brakes of the whole season. The circuit is surrounded by sand and it can also get very hot, which can pose problems with the cooling of a new car. So reliability will be key, especially with this year's switch to V8 engines. But the TF106 has been very reliable in testing with no major mechanical issues so we are confident. The engine and chassis departments have worked very closely to ensure our package is as integrated as possible. Luca Marmorini's team has done a great job with the new V8 and we have consistently run the engines up to the mileage necessary to last two races without sacrificing performance or driveability. We have also spent the winter adapting to our switch to Bridgestone tyres, which we are sure will reap dividends. Last year we qualified on the front row here and finished second. We would like to repeat that but at this stage it is really difficult to predict where we will be."
 
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Bahrain Preview: McLaren

The 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship gets underway this coming weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit. Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya will be racing the Team McLaren Mercedes MP4-21 in the desert Kingdom, which is opening the season as the Commonwealth Games is currently taking place in the usual host city, Melbourne.

The Bahrain Grand Prix, which is being held for the third time, heralds the start of what promises to be another competitive and exciting year in the sport of Formula One, with 18 races in five continents across the globe, ending in Brazil in eight months.

2006 has seen the introduction of a raft of new technical and sporting regulations. The change from V10 to V8 engines is the most significant, and has dominated the design process of the MP4-21. Fundamentally a new car to incorporate the new Mercedes-Benz FO 108S V8, the basic concept of the MP4-21 is an evolution from 2005. Other technical changes include the raising by 50mm of the forward deflector, and an increase of 50 per cent of the crash test loads to the rear structure. The MP4-21 hit the test track on Monday 23rd January, and has completed over 8700 test km over the course of an intensive programme of 28 days.

Sporting regulations will see the re-introduction of tyre changes during pit stops and a new qualifying format. The single lap system of 2005 has been replaced with a three part knockout. Multiple cars are allowed on track throughout the qualifying hour, which is split into two 15 minutes sessions and a final 20 minute session. After the first 15 minutes, the bottom six cars drop out of the running, assuming the last six places on the grid. This is repeated for the second session, leaving 10 cars to compete in a shootout for the top ten grid positions.

Kimi Raikkonen: "It is great to be back racing in Bahrain this weekend. It has been a busy winter season for us, with hard work taking place in every part of the team. Since my first outing in the MP4-21 at Barcelona on Thursday 26th January I have covered more than 3200 km with the new car. The car has felt good on track and is quick, which can be seen from the improvements in lap times of more than 3 seconds. Of course I want to carry on from our performance last year and be challenging for race wins, however we will only see where we are in Bahrain after qualifying. It is also going to be interesting this weekend to go back to tyre changes in the pit stops, we had to adapt driving styles slightly for last year as we didn't have tyre changes, so it may mean people are more aggressive as it is not so important to look after your tyres. Bahrain is a good track, it always seems to have exciting races and I hope there will be another one this year to start the 2006 season."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "The start of the 2006 season will be even more exciting than the previous years with all the changes of the technical and sporting regulations. It is a bit different for me this year as I now know the team and the car really well from the very start of the season. We have completed some intensive work on the test track. Since starting my test programme with the MP4-21 on 24 January I have been at the wheel for 12 days and covered more than 3500 km. In addition to this I have spent 8 days at the McLaren Technology Centre with the engineers, working on debriefs, seat-fitting and in the simulation department and I feel well prepared for the long season ahead. But as always there is a lot of work still to be done. The Bahrain track hasn't been my most successful venue to date, and starting there will be slightly tougher for me, as I didn’t race there last season. However I qualified well in 2004 and I always enjoy driving on tracks designed by Hermann Tilke. It has a good mix of corners, turn 12 is pretty cool and quite like Eau Rouge, so you are pushing it hard through the corner as it sweeps you right up the hill. The track is quite tough on the brakes though, as there are a number of long straights and slow corners, and little chance for them to cool. However it is not as bad as Canada, but we do need to make sure we manage this through the race."

Martin Whitmarsh: "At the start of every season, Team McLaren Mercedes sets out with the same expectations and aspirations: to win races and the Formula 1 World Championships. The 2006 season will be no different. With regulation changes, ranging from the introduction of V8 engines to a new knockout qualifying format and the reintroduction of tyre stops, dominating the build-up to the 2006 season, Team McLaren Mercedes has been working intensively on maximising the opportunities these changes have provided back at base and with the test team on track. This period has also seen significant work with Michelin to adapt to the return to tyres that perform under short stints rather than for full race distance. Despite initial work beginning on MP4-21 in August 2004 and the car completing around 8700 test km, as always, relative performances cannot be truly judged until the first few races have been run. I expect there will be a number of teams challenging for the titles. Kimi and Juan Pablo alongside the entire Team McLaren Mercedes and our Partners will battle hard and are looking forward to the challenges ahead."

Norbert Haug: "The 2006 Formula One season provides bigger challenges for all teams than the previous one. The fundamentally new engine regulations now specify eight instead of ten cylinders and a displacement of 2.4 instead of three litres. New aerodynamic limits in the rules and the shorter engine set an enormous task for the chassis engineers – many small modifications required big efforts and cost a lot of money. The start with the new MP4-21 at Barcelona on 23rd January was not trouble free and in the beginning we were not where we wanted. However, in the following five and a half weeks or about 40 days until the final test at Valencia on 1 March, our team showed what it’s capable of, be it chassis or engine wise. During 28 test days, Kimi, Juan Pablo and Pedro covered a total of 8692 kilometres which is on average one Grand Prix distance per day and therefore equates to a total of 28 Grand Prix distances in preparation for the first races. The lap time improved continuously throughout the tests and the long runs were OK compared to the fastest. Several times, our new V8 engine stood the strain of two race weekends and up to 50 percent more, on the circuits of Barcelona and Valencia as well as on the dynos at Brixworth and Stuttgart. Prior to the start of the season this coming weekend, I want to thank everybody in the team for their enormous efforts. During the last six weeks they almost worked 24 hours a day, at the test track and in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart. I know the best reward for everybody working so hard, and I hope we will go and get it as often as possible in the 2006 season’s 18 races."
 
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Bahrain engine preview

The Bahraini Grand Prix is a very demanding race for the engines. They spend 70% of the lap at full throttle, which puts the circuit among the top 5 of the year. It will be a tough test for the brand new V8 engines on their racing debut.

In the high temperatures, the engines experience 'acoustic offset'. This means that as the temperature rises, the revs at which the engine develops its maximum power increase by approximately 300 rpm for every 10°C. Previously, this was compensated in part by the use of variable intake trumpets. These are no longer allowed in 2006, which means the teams must forecast more accurately the ambient temperatures in order to fit the most appropriate length of trumpets. Variable trumpets previously allowed the teams to adapt to a wider range of temperatures, but fixed trumpets must be tuned more precisely to the prevailing conditions in order to generate maximum performance.

The primary risk for the engine remains the possible ingestion of sand, which would have be catastrophic for the pistons, piston rings or valves. The team therefore pays particular attention to air filters. Although certain materials may cost performance, they remain the most effective way of protecting the engine.

Temperatures are expected to be extremely high, which means that a successful car will be one which is able to provide sufficient cooling to the engine. Although the V8 is less demanding than the V10 in this area, the lower power also means that the percentage of the lap spent at full throttle has increased. As always, the optimum cooling level will provide the best possible compromise between cooling capacity and the cost of extra cooling in terms of aerodynamic performance.
 
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Hope the new keyboard's working out well, I guess we should all club together and buy you the next one. Thanks as always for the amount of time you must put into this thread.

Paul
 
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So...any complaints about the length of time I took to do it now?

No?

Goooood. :D

Time to start filling this thread up.

Expected today:
Red Bull Racing 'launch'
Scuderiea Toro Rosso 'launch'
Super Aguri 'launch'

Simon/~Flibster
 
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I think this was announced in the winter testing thread but there's a bit more detail - check the bit in bold.

Murray Walker heads to Five Live

Murray Walker began commentating on Formula One in 1949
Veteran Formula One commentator Murray Walker is to resume his career as part of BBC Radio Five Live's team.
The 82-year-old, who commentated on his last race for ITV five years ago, will contribute interviews and special features to this season's racing.

Walker will make his station debut on Friday with a team-by-team preview for a new slot, Five Live Formula One.

The broadcaster will also make its motor racing show The Chequered Flag available as a podcast.

For the first time, Five Live will provide commentary on practice sessions as well as qualifying from each circuit.

Other new faces to join the motor racing team include Holly Samos, who was Chris Evans's sidekick when he presented the breakfast show on BBC Radio 1, while Five Live presenter David Croft will host coverage.

Samos will report from the pit lane and paddock at each Grand Prix.

For the first time, Formula One coverage on BBC Five Live is being provided by an independent production company, USP-Group.

Walker, who began his commentating career in 1949, became famous for making memorable slip-ups during his time trackside, such as "with half the race gone, there is still half the race to go".

He worked for the BBC until 1996 when the corporation lost the rights to cover Formula One to ITV.

Walker was retained by ITV and commentated until his retirement in 2001.

This year's coverage of the Grand Prix season begins in Bahrain on 12 March.
 
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