Daylight faded into night during the course of today's two free practice sessions for the 2014 Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, which this weekend is hosting a night race for the first time in its 10 race history.
The opening session got underway in bright sunshine at 14.00hrs local time, when the Team ran its cars with two different control systems set-ups in order to maximise data gathering and pinpoint a good direction for the rest of the day's running. The set-up variants were based on the findings from a challenging weekend in Malaysia, which have enabled the Team to understand the current strengths and weaknesses of its package.
This afternoon, the objective was to focus on the usual tyre evaluation programme, while fine-tuning the chosen set-up direction. Midway through the session, Max was spun off track by what was later confirmed as a brake disc failure. Once an accurate diagnosis had been made, the Team opted to conduct a thorough investigation as to the cause of the problem and curtailed the day's running.
Max Chilton: "It was not the straightforward day of practice and preparation we had targeted but we were making good progress nonetheless and things were looking quite promising in the early part of the second session in particular. We were just getting started on the long run work when I felt something let go on the front left and it threw me into a spin. It felt like a brake disc failure and this is in fact what happened, so it's something we need to look into very carefully this evening. It's interesting to be back here after pre-season testing at this circuit but obviously the floodlights give a different dimension to the action. I do like the night races."
Jules Bianchi: "I think we saw promising signs from our running today which suggest that we have made some good progress with understanding our package a little more since Malaysia. The run on the soft tyre looked good so we look forward to exploring the performance of the car a little more tomorrow. Of course, we did have to end the day early to look at the brake disc problem that Max experienced, but a good start and some things to look forward to over the rest of the weekend I hope."
John Booth, Team Principal: "This morning's programme was mainly devoted to trying to improve the overall car control system mapping, looking at both the interaction of the power unit and the other chassis side systems. While we were not particularly focused on outright lap times, we were relatively pleased with our overall performance in the session. The same is true of our reliability this morning and for the early part of the second session. The work we completed in FP1 allowed us to fine tune some more mapping for FP2 and at the start of this evening's session both drivers were much happier with the cars. The short runs in FP2 passed off without incident and we can be relatively pleased with the performance as neither lap was perfect. At the start of Max's long high fuel run he stopped on track after a large lock-up. When the car arrived back at the garage our suspicions were confirmed as a brake disc failure. Having looked at the problem more closely, we decided to bring the day to an early conclusion in order to focus on investigating the cause."
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