2006 Bahrain Grand Prix - Race 1/18

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Race Notes - McLaren

Today's season opening race in Bahrain saw Team McLaren Mercedes drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya finish in third and fifth place respectively. Kimi was on a one-stop strategy after starting from the back of the grid, coming in on lap 30 (11 seconds), whilst Juan Pablo stopped twice on laps 23 (8.8 seconds) and 44 (6.9 seconds). Kimi is third in the driver's standings with six points and Juan Pablo is fifth with four. Team McLaren Mercedes is joint first with Renault in the Constructors' rankings with 10 points apiece.

Kimi Raikkonen: "This is a great result after the disappointment of yesterday, but we have known that the car was very strong all weekend. We thought that we had a chance to score some points today, even though we were starting from the back of the grid, but to get a podium is fantastic, The first few laps were crucial to this result, and luckily I managed to overtake a lot of cars at the first corner; I was up to 13th by lap two even though the cars in front were all lighter than me. We then gained some more places later on as a result of our strategy. The outcome is even more important to the whole team, who have been working so hard throughout the winter, as we didn't know where we were after testing and everyone had been saying that we were struggling. However we really have improved over the past few weeks. It proves that we are competitive and if not for yesterday we could have been even better."

Juan Pablo Montoya: "I have not really been totally comfortable with the set up of my car all weekend, which was clear during all the practice sessions. Obviously I am a little disappointed finishing in fifth as I know that the car could do so much more, but it just wasn't working for me this weekend. However it was a steady race and for the team to get two cars finishing in the points could be very important later in the season. The four points I have scored are good considering the circumstances. I am now looking forward to the next race in Malaysia, where we can improve further on these results."

Ron Dennis: "A difficult weekend which stretched the whole team. The results are therefore just reward for their efforts. We are all looking forward to Malaysia where our justifiable expectation is to do better."

Norbert Haug: "Kimi's performance was excellent coming from last place on the grid to finish third on the podium. Kimi was fighting all the way through the race and our one-stop strategy was ideal and helped to make this result possible. With his third place and Juan Pablo's fifth we have gained 10 points and are together with Williams Cosworth the only team which has finished with two cars in the points. So we are heading in the right direction. I want to thank the team for all their efforts following yesterday's problem. We are looking forward to next week's Malaysian Grand Prix."
 
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Race Notes - Renault

The World Champion Renault F1 Team and Fernando Alonso started their title defence in the best possible way this afternoon at the 2006 Bahraini Grand Prix, with the Spaniard taking victory in a hard-fought battle with Michael Schumacher. However, there were also mixed feelings in the team, as Giancarlo Fisichella was forced to retire on lap 21 following an hydraulic failure on his R26.

Fernando Alonso's victory centred on three key moments: on lap 8, when he narrowly avoided an accident with Felipe Massa after the Brazilian spun behind him into turn 1; and then two moments around the second pit-stop, both in the laps before his stop when he was able to gain vital time on Michael Schumacher, and then exiting the pits, as he battled wheel to wheel with the German into turn 1, to secure the track position that gave him victory. After this moment, on lap 40, he controlled his performance and the gap to the Ferrari all the way to the flag.

Giancarlo Fisichella started the race from his original P9, after the team had changed a large number of peripheral components on the engine in order to try and resolve the power loss he had suffered in qualifying. Unfortunately the problem continued, leaving the Italian around fifty horsepower short of his potential maximum throughout the opening part of the race. He made his first pit-stop on lap 16, but was forced into retirement five laps later after an hydraulic leak.

Fernando Alonso: This was a good, fighting win and I want to dedicate it to the mechanics and the team, for some fantastic pit-stops and the right strategy. There was a funny incident in the early stages, and I came very close to going out when Massa spun past me in turn 1. After that though, things went smoothly, and I knew that the key time would be around the second stop. I looked after the tyres at the start of the stints, so that I had something left at the crucial moment, and I was very confident that we would be able to do it. After that, I managed the performance, the car was running beautifully and I just concentrated on making no mistakes. The backmarkers were very fair today as well. I think the competition is a little bit closer than we thought overall, but this is the perfect start for the season.

Giancarlo Fisichella: I had the same problem as in qualifying, with a big loss of power on the engine. It was OK for the start of the race, but then I just lost power all the way through the rev range and the car was much slower on the straights. I was still able to fight with the cars around me, but I was a long way from the potential we could do with full power. Then I had an hydraulic problem which forced me to retire. The good thing is that we have another race in one week's time, and the car is clearly very quick. I want to bounce back strongly in Malaysia.

Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: Thank you to the entire team and our partners for this fantastic victory. Fernando did an incredible job, and managed his race perfectly to win. We can only apologise to Fisico, who had an engine problem all the way through the race and then was forced to retire. The team did an awesome job: the pit-stops were exceptional, and helped Fernando get back out in front of Michael at the end. This was an emotional race, and a fantastic show. We are all very happy.

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: This was a great race for Renault. From the driver onwards, our team showed what it is made of today. It was obviously very, very close around the second stop between Fernando and Michael, and we had known from the start that the laps around the second stop would be crucial. Our best chance of victory this weekend came from running a bit longer on our stints, to exploit the performance we found on the Michelin tyres. It worked, but only just! Our apologies must go to Giancarlo. The engine problem he suffered in qualifying had not gone away as we hoped, and seriously compromised his performance. In the circumstances, he did an exceptional job. Ultimately, though, an hydraulic leak stopped the car and forced him to retire.
 
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Toyota Boss orders inquest

Toyota team boss Tsutomu Tomita has called for a thorough inquest into what he described as a “shocking” performance in Bahrain.

The Japanese outfit was nowhere near the front-running pace all weekend despite having one of the biggest budgets in Formula 1 and high pre-season expectations.

The team adopted different fuel strategies for its two drivers, but to little avail as they trailed home 14th (Schumacher) and 16th (Trulli).

“The first grand prix weekend of 2006 has been a shocking way to start the year – not only for the team but for the fans all over the world,” was Tomita’s blunt verdict.

“The car was unexpectedly slower than many of the other cars and we could do nothing to step up during the race.

“We put the drivers on different strategies – Ralf on three tops and Jarno on two.

“At one point Jarno was good enough to let Ralf through because he was on a different strategy and a lighter fuel load, which meant he finished ahead.

“But overall we have to treat the weekend as a test session and use it to analyse why we didn't get the expected performance level.

“It was a disappointing race and a disappointing weekend and certainly not what we expected coming here based on our performance in testing.

“The basic balance of the car was okay but we have just been struggling for grip all weekend.

“It seems we have lost the considerable performance advantage we have built up since the middle of last year so we have a lot of work to do to understand the reasons.

“This is a very frustrating atmosphere but I’m sure that we will make every effort to come back at the coming races.”

Schumacher admitted the team’s fortunes are unlikely to be transformed overnight.

“Of course this was not the way we hoped to start off the 2006 season but we have to take things as they are and try to move forward from here,” said the German.

“We don’t know where the problem is but hopefully we will soon find out.

“The early races will be difficult but all we can do is push as hard as we can to move back up the grid.”
 
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Patrick Faure standing down - effective immediately

Renault F1 Team Chairman Patrick Faure has witnessed his last Grand Prix with Renault and is standing down from the position according to reports from the French AFP agency. His position, to be announced shortly by Renault, will be taken by Alain Dassas.

Faure, 59, stated earlier in the year that it was his intention to retire from the sport this year after consultation with new Renault Chairman Carlos Ghosn.

Dassas joined Renault from Chase Manhattan Bank in 1983, taking various high-level roles before appointed Renault's Senior Vice President of Finance in April 2001. He became a member of Renault Management Committee since January 2003.
 
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Berger pleased with STR, drivers less so.

Scuderia Toro Rosso have emerged from their debut Formula One race as a potential point scorer this season after both Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed found themselves in the thick of the Bahrain action in the close mid-field.

However, the big talking point of their race performance was once again the use of their V10 engines. While the reliability of the other runners meant they were unable to improve upon 11th for Liuzzi and 13th for Speed, the pace they were extracting from their Cosworth engine, in a straight-line especially, is likely to raise yet more questions about whether they are competing in the sprit of the regulations.

Indeed, Liuzzi in particular had little problems streaming past Coulthard in what is arguably the superior sister car early on, although this may have more to do with the fact that the Scot was running a high fuel load.

Nonetheless, while both Liuzzi and Speed were pleased to have both gotten to the finish, neither was entirely satisfied with their race performance. "We were expecting a bit more after the start we had to the weekend," Liuzzi admitted. "But it was good to see the chequered flag in a reasonable position. Unfortunately during the race we did not have the pace we needed."

"I'm pleased to have got through to the chequered flag in my first grand prix without making any mistakes," claimed Speed after becoming the first American driver to finish a Formula One race since 1993. "The balance of my car was not quite right during the first stint, but we were able to fix that at the first pit stop. After that, I think our pace improved and was good."

By contrast, Gerheard Berger's more reasonable goals for the race team meant that he was more than happy with STR's first race and also his debut as a team owner.

"It's a really good result for us," the Austrian believed. "With not many of the front runners stopping, finishing mid-field is about the best we could expect. It reflects our place I the order and the team can be more than happy, having performed well all weekend.

"Well done to everyone who worked so hard to get here. For Red Bull to get all four of its cars to the finish is also a result. From a personal point of view, I have to say this was a special day, watching my first race as a team owner."

He was also pleased to show that STR has emerged from the ashes of Minardi as a competitive package. "I am very happy, because in this team's previous life, people could sometimes feel sorry for you if you worked here. But I think after this race, I can go to the restaurant without having to hear bad comments!"
 
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Wow, this thread has got large since I was last in here, anyways,

Great start to the season. I hope the season throughout is gonig to be like this all the time.

Kimi drove brilliantly. I was focussed on the front 2, saw that Kimi went to 11th and was kinda held up for a while. Then once he was one stopping, he just went through the grid and ended up 3rd. A little challenge from Button, it was enough to keep him at bay and stay 3rd to finish the race. Great tactical work by the McLaren boys.

Schumy, shown that hes still got it today with a good drive. Shame about Massa but I think thats in experience for you. The tyre's on Schumy's car seemed to fade away a little at the end of thier life, Alonso closed in on him quick and stuck a brilliant move on him to take the lead.

Alonso, started off where he left last season, great win for him. I am pleased that Fisi had problems though so he could'nt get in amongst the action and cause problems for the McLarens.

Montoya, had a quietish race tbh, he did very well, with nothing much happening apart from when Button stuck a few moves on him. He didnt had the blistering pace I thought he would have. I would have thought that he would have finished in front of Kimi. Overall good performane from the McLaren boys. 3rd and 5th is a good start to the season.

What happened to Toyota? They never had any real performance at all. Expected more from them to be honest.

The Toro Rosso had a fast car in a straight line. They still have V10 right, but de-tuned. De-tuned or not, I think it was Liuzzi went right oast Coulthard I think, if he wasnt there.

Cant wait for the highlights to see it all again :D
 
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Race Results.
Code:
[b]Pos	No	Driver			Team			Laps	Time		Grid	Points[/b]
1	1	Fernando Alonso		Renault			57	1:29:46.205	4	10	
2	5	Michael Schumacher	Ferrari			57	+1.2 secs	1	8	
3	3	Kimi Räikkönen		McLaren-Mercedes	57	+19.3 secs	22	6	
4	12	Jenson Button		Honda			57	+19.9 secs	3	5	
5	4	Juan Pablo Montoya	McLaren-Mercedes	57	+37.0 secs	5	4	
6	9	Mark Webber		Williams-Cosworth	57	+41.9 secs	7	3	
7	10	Nico Rosberg		Williams-Cosworth	57	+63.0 secs	12	2	
8	15	Christian Klien		RBR-Ferrari		57	+66.7 secs	8	1	
9	6	Felipe Massa		Ferrari			57	+69.9 secs	2	
10	14	David Coulthard		RBR-Ferrari		57	+75.5 secs	13	
11	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi	STR-Cosworth		57	+85.9 secs	15	
12	16	Nick Heidfeld		Sauber-BMW		56	+1 Lap		10	
13	21	Scott Speed		STR-Cosworth		56	+1 Lap		16	
14	7	Ralf Schumacher		Toyota			56	+1 Lap		17	
15	11	Rubens Barrichello	Honda			56	+1 Lap		6	
16	8	Jarno Trulli		Toyota			56	+1 Lap		14	
17	18	Tiago Monteiro		MF1-Toyota		55	+2 Laps		19	
18	22	Takuma Sato		Super Aguri-Honda	53	+4 Laps		20	
Ret	23	Yuji Ide		Super Aguri-Honda	35	Mechanical	21	
Ret	17	Jacques Villeneuve	Sauber-BMW		29	Engine		11	
Ret	2	Giancarlo Fisichella	Renault			21	Hydraulics	9	
Ret	19	Christijan Albers	MF1-Toyota		0	Driveshaft	18
 
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Fastest Laps.

Code:
[b]
Pos	No	Driver			Team			Lap	Time		Speed 	Laptime[/b]
1	10	Nico Rosberg		Williams-Cosworth	42	15:40:46	210.838	1:32.408	
2	5	Michael Schumacher	Ferrari			38	15:33:50	210.576	1:32.523	
3	1	Fernando Alonso		Renault			21	15:07:01	210.551	1:32.534	
4	9	Mark Webber		Williams-Cosworth	25	15:13:42	210.265	1:32.660	
5	12	Jenson Button		Honda			39	15:35:20	210.109	1:32.729	
6	6	Felipe Massa		Ferrari			28	15:18:55	210.086	1:32.739	
7	4	Juan Pablo Montoya	McLaren-Mercedes	21	15:06:50	210.013	1:32.771	
8	3	Kimi Räikkönen		McLaren-Mercedes	29	15:19:33	209.803	1:32.864	
9	21	Scott Speed		STR-Cosworth		45	15:46:24	209.253	1:33.108	
10	15	Christian Klien		Red Bull Racing		40	15:37:19	209.020	1:33.212	
11	14	David Coulthard		Red Bull Racing		26	15:15:11	208.653	1:33.376	
12	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi	STR-Cosworth		26	15:15:31	208.421	1:33.480	
13	17	Jacques Villeneuve	Sauber-BMW		20	15:05:36	207.945	1:33.694	
14	16	Nick Heidfeld		Sauber-BMW		26	15:15:37	207.772	1:33.772	
15	11	Rubens Barrichello	Honda			14	14:56:01	207.621	1:33.840	
16	7	Ralf Schumacher		Toyota			25	15:14:09	207.021	1:34.112	
17	2	Giancarlo Fisichella	Renault			15	14:57:43	206.564	1:34.320	
18	8	Jarno Trulli		Toyota			24	15:12:52	205.406	1:34.852	
19	18	Tiago Monteiro		MF1-Toyota		41	15:41:08	203.076	1:35.940	
20	22	Takuma Sato		Super Aguri-Honda	17	15:01:51	200.642	1:37.104	
21	23	Yuji Ide		Super Aguri-Honda	11	14:52:27	198.197	1:38.302
 
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Looks like Toyota are not happy.

I'm surprised that they decided to give up on Ralf's weekend before the start of the race, especially when Kimi showed that with a good strategy and a bit of speed you can race from 20th to 3rd. It looks like basic speed, however, is a problem which for a team of that sort of budget is unexpected to say the least. They also have had, with the exception of Renault, probably the least disrupted off season - same drivers, same engine, same design team. All that's changed is a move to Bridgestones, granted this is fairly fundamental but Williams don't seem to be struggling.

The TF106B is due in 2-3 months which makes you wonder if they new the TF106 was a lemon from the outset or is it really just a TF105C? Either way there's going to be some serious finger pointing in Cologne this week and you have to wonder what the way out is...

EDIT: Just seen the fastest lap times and they don't make pleasant reading if you support the red & white...

To be 2 seconds off the pace when you're three stopping is not a good place to be.
 
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Pit Stops

Code:
[b]Stop	No	Driver			Team			Lap	Time Of Day	Time		Total Pit Time	[/b]
1	10	Nico Rosberg		Williams-Cosworth	1	14:35:36	38.477		38.477	
1	23	Yuji Ide		Super Aguri-Honda	7	14:45:38	15.797		15.797	
1	6	Felipe Massa		Ferrari			8	14:46:34	1:05.526	1:05.526	
1	7	Ralf Schumacher		Toyota			12	14:53:17	25.853		25.853	
1	5	Michael Schumacher	Ferrari			15	14:57:11	27.009		27.009	
2	23	Yuji Ide		Super Aguri-Honda	14	14:57:26	33.196		48.993	
1	11	Rubens Barrichello	Honda			16	14:59:11	27.177		27.177	
1	2	Giancarlo Fisichella	Renault			16	14:59:18	27.474		27.474	
1	16	Nick Heidfeld		Sauber-BMW		17	15:00:59	27.416		27.416	
1	12	Jenson Button		Honda			18	15:02:05	27.658		27.658	
1	18	Tiago Monteiro		MF1-Toyota		18	15:03:07	27.481		27.481	
3	23	Yuji Ide		Super Aguri-Honda	17	15:03:27	10:45.296	11:34.289	
1	22	Takuma Sato		Super Aguri-Honda	18	15:03:29	15.302		15.302	
1	1	Fernando Alonso		Renault			19	15:03:31	26.602		26.602	
2	22	Takuma Sato		Super Aguri-Honda	19	15:05:22	1:14.871	1:30.173	
3	22	Takuma Sato		Super Aguri-Honda	20	15:08:25	40.992		2:11.165	
1	15	Christian Klien		Red Bull Racing		22	15:08:38	27.937		27.937	
1	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi	STR-Cosworth		22	15:08:50	27.441		27.441	
1	8	Jarno Trulli		Toyota			22	15:09:18	25.885		25.885	
1	4	Juan Pablo Montoya	McLaren-Mercedes	23	15:09:56	27.492		27.492	
1	9	Mark Webber		Williams-Cosworth	23	15:10:12	26.208		26.208	
1	17	Jacques Villeneuve	Sauber-BMW		23	15:10:20	27.041		27.041	
4	22	Takuma Sato		Super Aguri-Honda	22	15:12:27	33.459		2:44.624	
1	21	Scott Speed		STR-Cosworth		25	15:14:06	27.579		27.579	
2	7	Ralf Schumacher		Toyota			26	15:15:44	25.781		51.634	
2	10	Nico Rosberg		Williams-Cosworth	27	15:17:07	25.849		1:04.326	
5	22	Takuma Sato		Super Aguri-Honda	25	15:17:59	35.539		3:20.163	
1	3	Kimi Räikkönen		McLaren-Mercedes	30	15:21:07	29.638		29.638	
1	14	David Coulthard		Red Bull Racing		30	15:21:27	29.271		29.271	
2	6	Felipe Massa		Ferrari			32	15:25:08	28.245		1:33.771	
2	16	Nick Heidfeld		Sauber-BMW		35	15:29:53	26.846		54.262	
2	5	Michael Schumacher	Ferrari			36	15:30:19	27.374		54.383	
2	18	Tiago Monteiro		MF1-Toyota		37	15:34:19	27.136		54.617	
2	1	Fernando Alonso		Renault			39	15:34:59	26.220		52.822	
2	11	Rubens Barrichello	Honda			38	15:35:09	25.935		53.112	
2	9	Mark Webber		Williams-Cosworth	39	15:35:30	26.605		52.813	
2	20	Vitantonio Liuzzi	STR-Cosworth		39	15:35:57	28.244		55.685	
2	8	Jarno Trulli		Toyota			39	15:36:54	25.637		51.522	
2	12	Jenson Button		Honda			40	15:36:54	25.424		53.082	
2	15	Christian Klien		Red Bull Racing		41	15:38:55	26.075		54.012	
3	7	Ralf Schumacher		Toyota			41	15:39:54	25.497		1:17.131	
6	22	Takuma Sato		Super Aguri-Honda	39	15:41:34	30.916		3:51.079	
3	10	Nico Rosberg		Williams-Cosworth	43	15:42:19	26.178		1:30.504	
2	21	Scott Speed		STR-Cosworth		43	15:42:53	27.118		54.697	
2	4	Juan Pablo Montoya	McLaren-Mercedes	44	15:43:17	25.369		52.861
 
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Current Standings

2006 Drivers Championship.
Code:
[b]Pos	Driver			Nationality	Team			Points[/b]
1	Fernando Alonso		Spanish		Renault			10
2	Michael Schumacher	German		Ferrari			8
3	Kimi Räikkönen		Finnish		McLaren-Mercedes	6
4	Jenson Button		British		Honda			5
5	Juan Pablo Montoya	Colombian	McLaren-Mercedes	4
6	Mark Webber		Australian	Williams-Cosworth	3
7	Nico Rosberg		German		Williams-Cosworth	2
8	Christian Klien		Austrian	RBR-Ferrari		1

2006 Constructors Championship.
Code:
[b]Pos	Constructor 		Points[/b]
1	Renault 		10
1=	McLaren-Mercedes 	10	
3	Ferrari 		8
4	Honda 			5
4=	Williams-Cosworth 	5
6	RBR-Ferrari 		1
 
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Bahrain: Post-Race Press Conference

Fernando, it was close all the way, but a great start, you got up to second place on the first lap.
Fernando Alonso: Yes, the start was good and from there it was a little bit easy to think about the race but about the start maybe was two down on the first lap and then impossible to recover. In the first stint, Michael was too quick, nothing to do. We thought that we had more fuel than the others, especially yesterday in qualifying, up until lap 20 and then from there the car was performing well. We were on a similar pace to Michael and in the second stop, thanks to luck, thanks to the mechanics who did a perfect stop again, I was very close but in front of Michael and from there, I think we had a similar pace again but with me just in front.

It looked to be a bit of a tense time for you going into that second stop when you knew you had to make up time and you were in traffic there.
FA: Yeah, a lot of traffic and I think all the guys were OK to let me past but there were no blue flags at all, so the marshals were not in the race at that moment, but I was lucky enough to be in front of Michael and it was good, it was really nice and a really fun race for me.

How did you drive that last stint with Michael behind you?
FA: At the beginning quite slowly, quite conservatively, because I knew that at the beginning maybe the Michelin tyres were a little bit better and at the end maybe the Bridgestone tyres would be better. So I knew that at the end, the last four or five laps, we would have some problems with Michael, for sure, so I was a little bit conservative and I really conserved the tyres to the end, but at the end, I also had quite a nice gap – one second, one second and a half – and all the last stint was quite relaxed.

Michael, for a while Felipe was second on that first lap but by the end it was Fernando in your mirrors.
Michael Schumacher: Yes, but quite honestly if you think where we were last year, if you see what has happened over the winter time, if somebody would have told us we would finish second in this race we would have been absolutely happy about it and we are honestly happy. It’s eight points, just two down (from the maximum). Victory is certainly always nicer, no doubt. We got pole position yesterday, unfortunately I lost one lap in qualifying where, for traffic reasons I had to back off and I didn’t get the fuel, and if you look at it now, it’s the one lap that I was missing, in a way. Nevertheless, good result, good work from the team, reliable car, fast car, very promising for the rest of the season and good fighting and good racing.

Brilliant second stint from you, a lot of fuel in the car, a long run there and Fernando behind you the whole way.
MS: Yeah. Obviously he was a bit quicker in certain moments. Then I seemed to be able to just open up a little bit and got traffic, close to my pit stop, but nevertheless, you shouldn’t complain. It just goes around one or the other way and it was a good race at the end of the day. I feel a bit sorry for Felipe that he couldn’t take the result of his race but there are many races to go for him.

And how was that phase for you, following Fernando?
MS: You know what it is in Formula One, sitting behind a car, you need to be a lot quicker. When you have equal cars, it’s almost impossible to pass. Once there was a moment with a backmarker, I got a bit closer, I was having a look whether there was an opportunity but then finally it wasn’t close enough to seriously try.

Kimi, from the back of the grid, what a sensational drive from you on a one stop strategy. Talk us through the early phase; you picked up a lot of places very quickly.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, I think it was a bit disappointing what happened yesterday because the car has been pretty good all weekend and we got a good set-up, especially yesterday morning so starting from the last place, we knew that we had a good chance to score some points, but it really depends on the first few laps and whatever happens during the race but I got quite a few places in the first corner and I was able to follow and overtake people who were lighter, so I got past them during the first stint. We ran quite a bit longer than anyone else so we were able to gain some places and in the end, the Honda came behind me, Jenson, and it was a little bit difficult because I had quite old tyres already which had done many laps, and he was behind me with brand new tyres, so I needed to look out for him and I was able to keep him behind for five laps and then I knew that his new tyres weren’t going to be as good any more so I was able to take it easy and then come home in third place.

But you must feel encouraged by the tremendous speed from you and the car.
KR: Yeah, because we didn’t really know where we were after testing and people said we weren’t very good, but during the last month we really improved our position and when we came here the car was pretty good so it wasn’t surprising, but we didn’t really know where we were. So it was nice to see that we were strong in the race and we could have been very strong in qualifying also.

It looks like it’s going to be a very very close season, Fernando.
FA: Yeah, it will be very interesting. There are four teams fighting for victories at any circuit at the moment: Honda, McLaren, Ferrari and Renault, and I think any of them can win races, and this would make the start of the season, especially, very very interesting.

Press Conference

Fernando, how did you get past Felipe?
FA: Felipe went a little bit long into turn one at the start of the race. I tried to overtake him at turn four, on the next straight but it wasn’t possible, but he braked on the inside line where it was dirty and he missed turn four, so it was there that I overtook him. On the fifth or sixth lap, he overtook me but only for a tenth of a second, because he passed really quickly and dangerously and at that moment I was lucky enough not to touch.

Did you see him coming, sideways or backwards?
FA: Yes, but there was nothing I could do, the speed was too quick and you have no reaction time, basically. I was lucky.

Then it was absolutely vital for you to get out the pits ahead of Michael at that last stop.
FA: Yeah, it was the only opportunity to win the race and I was going for it. I really knew that the car was tougher than Michael’s, especially the first ten laps on the tyres. So it was my moment, I knew that if I was in front of him at the exit of the pits, the race was for me. I really pushed with a good in lap and a perfect pit stop from the mechanics and thanks to this I was in front of him, very close, but in front.

Were you getting a lot of instructions on the radio?
FA: No, I was pushing them more for the blue flags, so they had more radio than me, probably.

How much were you surprised by Michael five laps from the end?
FA: No, we had some people in front, and sometimes they slowed me down, and Michael was close to me, and sometimes it was the opposite. They were nice with me and not so nice with Michael and the gap would open again. I was quite sure that the victory was in my hands.

Were you a bit worried during the opening stages when he was pulling away a bit?
FA: No, not really. We thought that the fuel load was significantly different, and it was not the time to push at that stage.

And what’s the new swagger on the podium?
FA: It’s a secret, I’ll tell you later in the season.

Michael, the end of the pit stop was the crucial point, wasn’t it?
MS: Yep. Probably the pictures show how close I was. I was on the outside, I tried, but there was no opportunity.

And obviously later on as well.
MS: Yeah, once you’re behind, you have to wait for a mistake or a bad situation with a backmarker. It didn’t really occur, so I just sat and waited and watched.

But you’re really happy with what was obviously a very close second place.
MS: Yeah, you know in 19 or 18 races, however many it’s going to be, all points are very important and if you lose or gain two points it’s not really so important at this stage. It would have liked to win but then there is only so much you can do for it and this time it was Fernando. As you see, we have four very competitive teams on the grid and it’s a long year.

Did the opening laps go as planned?
MS: Basically, yes, it worked out well.

No more or less than the time you would have hoped to have made up?
MS: No, actually, I was quite happy to see a gap opening up and if you consider that we lost a lap of fuel returned in qualifying due to being just a bit above 110 percent anyway, so it shows where we are and how good we probably can be for the rest of the year.

Kimi, you made up eight places on the first lap; do you remember any of them?
KR: Yes, in the first corner I got quite a few around the outside, and then people were really going too quickly into turn four, and they were sliding around and I got a few places there but the car was good, even though we were much heavier than the guys in front of us. The biggest problem was Villeneuve, he was the most difficult guy to overtake because I was hitting the rev limiter in seventh gear in a straight line so whenever I got close I was not able to pass him. But then finally I got close enough and got him under braking so that was very good. But the car has been good all weekend really so it was a bit disappointing what happened yesterday. But at least we got six points, so we didn’t drop too many points behind the two guys in front of me. There are many races to go and we seem to have good speed and the car is working, so maybe we can see what we can do.

Much pressure from Jenson Button in the closing stages?
KR: Yeah, when he came behind me he was on new tyres and my tyres were a bit old already, so I knew that he could try to overtake me at that point, but I was pushing hard and then after about five laps he started to slow down so I knew then it should be OK barring a mistake, but at that moment when he just had new tyres it was quite close.

Questions From The Floor

(Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Michael, your team tested here for several days so you got used to the circuit and the Bridgestones as well. Is this the real power of Ferrari or is it down to the test?
MS: I guess at the start of the weekend you have advantage. Normally, by the end, people know what they have to do, and I don’t know if I should say it but there is something still left over for another (race). Who knows, but it certainly did help our preparation.

(Anthony Rowlinson - Autosport) Michael, do Renault have a car advantage over you or is it down to tyres? Can you analyse where they are quicker?
MS: I think, if you look at it in real terms, we’re very close, so I’m not sure if anybody has the advantage over anybody. Probably, if you analyse, Kimi has done a very fast race, so we’ll have to wait and see. It really is important where you start at the beginning of the season and where you finish. Development is a key factor and we’ll see who has the better base on that.

Fernando, in qualifying, you and Giancarlo (Fisichella) were at the bottom of the times for eight or nine minutes, in which you possibly burnt off 10 per cent less fuel while doing the same amount of laps. Was your victory won in qualifying because of the extra lap over Michael?
FA: No. I think all weekend we finished top. We worked in a different way and yesterday in qualifying we did a different approach to the new system, which is why we looked different. Everybody else all did a pretty similar strategy, but all weekend has been a case of finding the best approach. We had a perfect Friday, we did a lot on Saturday with our strategy and then won the race. The combination of all these factors went to make the victory.

(Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Kimi, how risky were your tactics tyre-wise, given the one-stop strategy?
KR: No more risky than doing two stops. The tyres have been working very well. We were on a hard compound and it seemed to come back well and there was no big drop-off. We thought anyway that we could do the whole race with no problems.

(Mathias Brunner - Motorsport Aktuell) Fernando, due to what happened to Fisichella, were there any warnings from the team and did you change anything in the car?
FA: No, nothing. He had some problems in qualifying, so I think he took a risk today. They didn’t change anything and he started in the same car. Unfortunately, something happened and he had to retire, but in my car it was okay and we had no problems.

(Mark Fogarty - Auto Action) Was Kimi’s performance ominous? Can we assume he would have sped off if he started on the front row?
FA: I don’t know. During the race I did not know what Kimi was doing. I was surprised he was on the podium because he started from the back, because I thought Jenson was third. I think he did a good race and if he started from the front it would have been a close fight again, between two or three cars, so we’ll wait for the next one (race) now and the opportunity to see him in a more competitive start.
MS: You have to analyse all the laps and times, so it’s difficult to say from here. He was very quick and it’s no surprise how quick we found them.

(Jerome Bourret - L’Equipe) Michael, do you think you can challenge Fernando when we get back to Europe and have colder temperatures?
MS: I hope so. There’s no reason not to believe that after this race.

(Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, is the pace of your car what you expected, or is it as a result of the track conditions?
FA: No, it’s as I expected. We were quick, but we are not the favourites like some people expected. They said Renault was a little bit in front of other people. We always said we are not the top team but that we are a top four team who are all very close. With that race here today with Ferrari – Ferrari were very quick here last year but Michael had the hydraulic problem. We now have to look at the next few races. They are at tracks where we cannot test, so some teams will be fast and some will be slow and we will see.

(Mark Fogarty - Auto Action) Kimi, what’s your feeling about the pace you displayed? Would you have run away if you started up at the front?
KR: I for sure would have had a chance to win the race, but I don’t know at what point they (Alonso and Schumacher) were quick, so it’s not easy to say right now. I think we could have been fighting but we will have to look at the data to see what the difference would be and if there was any difference.

(Mark Fogarty - Auto Action) Did the car feel quick to you?
KR: Like I said, the car is good, so that is the main thing and I definitely think I will have a chance to win races and fight for the championship, so that’s the main thing too. We were fast today, so that’s good.

(Juha Päätalo - Financial Times Germany) Kimi, when did you realise you’d be on the podium today and how much satisfaction was it after yesterday?
KR: Of course, we’re very happy where we finished today because after yesterday it was not so good. I think before my only stop we were already in third place behind the leaders so we knew then if we could keep the speed up that we could fight for the podium, so I was happy we could. That was the moment.

(Juha Päätalo - Financial Times Deutschland) Fernando, can you explain the moment when Felipe Massa almost hit your car?
FA: Interesting moment. For a little time, I thought he would hit me when I saw him coming. I tried to turn left into turn one, when he came past me at speed. Everything happened very quickly. He didn’t hit me, and after that I just relaxed, because he didn’t touch me. He was maybe close to me, but I just concentrated on my race.

(Carlos Miquel Gomez - Diario AS) Fernando, are you worried that you have Ferrari and McLaren closer than last year?
FA: No, I’m not worried. We have the right people and the right car to be fighting all season. We saw in China their capacity to make an update to win the last race and win the championship for constructors. In the past two years it is true that some of the teams have been developing the car a little bit more than us, so we have to, in the first part of the championship, win as many points as possible.

(Mark Fogarty, Australian Auto Action) – Michael, is it more interesting to be fighting the new generation?
MS: I don’t feel like the old generation to be honest.

In motor racing terms, you are.
MS: It’s true, it says so in my passport, but it makes no difference to me I think

Is the challenge more interesting though? You couldn’t do it last year but now you can.
MS: Did you listen to what I said before? Same question, same answer.
 
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Heidfeld gets a rap on the knuckles

Nick Heidfeld has been reprimanded by race stewards for forcing David Coulthard off the track in the early stages of today’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The pair were battling for 12th place when Heidfeld made a clean pass into turn one.

Coulthard attempted to counter-attack around the outside of the following left-hand kink but had to take to the asphalt run-off area as Heidfeld drifted across into his path.

A statement issued by the FIA said: “The Stewards, after hearing the explanation of both the drivers and viewing video recording of the incident, determine that the driver Nick Heidfeld was involved in an incident as defined by Article 52 of the 2006 Formula 1 Sporting Regulations in that he forced the car driven by David Coulthard off the track.

“The Stewards accordingly reprimand the driver of car number 16 Nick Heidfeld.”

The rap on the knuckles completed a disappointing day for Heidfeld and his BMW team.

After qualifying 10th, the German was knocked into a spin at the first corner by debutant Nico Rosberg and spent the afternoon in catch-up mode.

“Obviously things started badly as Rosberg spun me in the first corner,” Heidfeld said.

“I lost a lot of places and that ruined my race.

“I was able to fight back and had a particularly exciting battle with Coulthard.

“It’s difficult to assess our performance after only one race but naturally it’s disappointing when you start 10th and can’t score any points.”

Team-mate Jacques Villeneuve ran just inside the top 10 until succumbing to a sudden engine failure at two-thirds distance.

BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen admitted the team’s race pace did not live up to his expectations.

“The start of the weekend was promising, but unfortunately we could not maintain our performance for the race,” he said.

“Jacques’ car suffered a serious engine failure, without any warning. The unit was removed immediately after we got the car back, and sent to Munich for analysis.

“Nick was the victim of a collision in the first corner with Nico Rosberg, and was relegated to the tail of the field.

“From there he recovered to 12th but the lap times were not as good as expected.

“That shows that we have started well but still have much to do.”
 
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Flexible F1 Wing Rules Under Scrutiny

Renault engineering boss Pat Symonds says that the rule concerning flexible rear wings needs to be clarified, after suggestions in the Bahrain paddock that the wing on the new Ferrari skirts the rules.

For the past few years the FIA has stipulated a test that measures the deflection of a rear wing under load, but Symonds says that the controlled test in the scrutineering garage might not tell the full story.

In the Bahrain GP Felipe Massa was fastest through the two quickest speed traps.

"I think there are a number of teams wondering where the limits lie," said Symonds. "There’s a single measurement that’s made on the wing, but wings have a distributed load, not a single point load. Therefore the measurement doesn’t show everything that can happen with a wing. One place, one direction, can be different to a true aerodynamic load on a wing.

"It needs a bit of analysis, doesn’t it? You ought to be looking at the speed maybe of the Red Bull and the Ferrari, as they’ve got the same engine.

"There are a lot of other teams that need to know where the limit is, and what you can do. You just need to know where you are. It’s not a criticism of the FIA. You can’t write rules that cover everything. The more precisely you write a rule, the easier it is to get around it. Having them a little bit vague sometimes is not a bad thing."

Symonds says that Renault has no plans to launch a formal protest: "We try to avoid that."
 
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Flibster said:
£20 :D

Happy? You bet I am - thats a set of sparkplugs and half a plumbed in fire extinguisher. :D

Simon/~Flibster

Nice one :D

Got to get my self down to the bookies for next weekend.

Did you put the bet on after qualifying? Got better odd's as Kimi was at the back of the grid...
 
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Paul Stoddart's airline downsizing

OzJet Airlines will concentrate on charter flights after deciding to suspend its scheduled flights between Melbourne and Sydney.

OzJet chairman Paul Stoddart said that it was with very great regret that the decision had been made to stop flying scheduled services immediately.

"Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, we have not had the support we needed to operate in that environment against big, established carriers," Stoddart said. "It's very, very disappointing, particularly, I'm sure, for those people who had started travelling regularly with us between Melbourne and Sydney and many of our very diligent and loyal employees. Sad to say, there have not been enough of those regular customers."

"We will now concentrate, with a reduced workforce, on charter operations. We have given it a go in a very tough area of the Australian aviation industry and, as much as we would have hoped, it has become clear that we were not going to achieve in the immediate future the kind of revenues that were needed to keep OzJet in the air as the airline was envisaged. Charter operations may well be more rewarding."

OzJet will retain its Air Operator's Certificate, a minimum of two Boeing 737 aircraft for charter work and about 30 per cent of its staff.

"OzJet will focus its future flying around ad hoc and VIP charters, something there is clearly a demand for in Australia as little, if any, competition exists in that market," Stoddart concluded.
 
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Bennah said:
Nice one :D

Got to get my self down to the bookies for next weekend.

Did you put the bet on after qualifying? Got better odd's as Kimi was at the back of the grid...

Yup. If I wanted Raikkonen to win I would have got 50:1 :eek:

Still 15:1 ain't too bad.

Simon/~Flibster
 
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