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Bahrain GP: Preview - McLaren

NEWS STORY
29/03/2016

Fernando Alonso: "In testing and in Melbourne we've had good reliability, which proves how hard the team has worked to make our package stronger. There's also been a massive effort from the teams in Woking and Sakura, who have been flat-out manufacturing parts for this race to ensure we can get back up to speed after the chassis was damaged, and I'm hugely impressed with how quickly they've managed to turn it around. We're still pushing to bring upgrades to each race, so providing we can get everything to the car in time we'll be aiming to get as much track time as possible with the new chassis from the start of free practice.

"Living in Dubai, I'm used to the climate in the Middle East, and racing in different temperatures over the weekend, as well as managing the car's performance over a long race distance in tough conditions, brings another level to the challenge for the drivers. I'm looking forward to seeing what our package is capable of at what has previously been a pretty challenging circuit for us."

Jenson Button: "We made a couple of misjudgements on the strategy side in Melbourne, but it's all part of the learning curve with the new tyre compound rules. Together with the engineers we've studied the data and hopefully we can make some good calls in Bahrain, pull together the various stages of the race and achieve a more representative result.

"The landscape of racing in the desert after sunset is always really special and brings a new dimension to the spectacle. Everything in Bahrain is always very slick and it's an impressive place to be. My win there in 2009 is still a great memory and the wide track and run-off areas mean it's a fun circuit on which to battle. I hope we can mix it with the midfield pack - it's a very competitive area of the field - so we'll be pushing hard to get the maximum from our package as soon as we can."

Eric Boullier, Racing Director: "The race in Australia was certainly an eventful one for McLaren-Honda. First of all, I was very happy to see Fernando walk away after such a heart-stopping incident. In addition, I'd like to say a huge thank you to all our McLaren and Honda employees for the incredible efforts going on behind the scenes to get the spare chassis built and ready to race next weekend. It's a truly remarkable achievement in between flyaway races, and a testament to our incredibly strong teamwork.

"We're certainly hoping for a less dramatic race in Bahrain, and will be aiming to build on the promising initial data we've collected from our car, which shows a definite improvement in pace from last year's package. There's still much more potential to unlock and performance to find, but the encouraging leap made from testing to Melbourne has shown what's possible, and we will keep pushing to improve our pace and develop our strengths by continuing to bring updates to the car at every race.

"The Bahrain Grand Prix has become something of a home race for us, and we're very proud to be racing in front of our shareholders and enthusiastic fans. The spectacle of the Bahrain International Circuit is something very special. Racing under floodlights always creates a unique atmosphere and the fans get to enjoy action on track in completely different settings over the course of the weekend. For the engineers, it's a battle to juggle many different constraints - temperatures, track surfaces, brake wear, tyres, fuel consumption - and we've already learned a lot about how our car performs in different conditions from Melbourne, which we'll be putting to good use. In Bahrain we'll be looking to discover our true pace and put our package to work in the tough desert conditions."

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer: "After a chaotic Australian weekend, we head off to our first night race of the season in Bahrain.

"We have recovered the power unit from Fernando's car used in Melbourne. After initial investigations, we are massively disappointed that the ICE and most of the surrounding parts have been heavily damaged, as the impact from the accident was just too great. We will be replacing the complete power unit in Bahrain.

"Looking forward, Bahrain's sunny and dry weather will hopefully ensure that we have plenty of clean running. The circuit's two long front and back straights will be strenuous on the power units, so we will make the most of the practice sessions to set up the car. It's evident that we still need to increase our performance, but thankfully we were able to learn more about where we are and how to progress from the data collected in Melbourne."

Circuit length: 5.412km/3.363-mile (11th longest track of the year)

Distance to Turn One: 400m/0.249 miles (longest of season: Barcelona, 730m/0.454 miles)

Longest straight: 1.09km/0.677 miles (longest of season: China, 1.17km/0.727 miles)

Top speed: 335km/h/208mph, on the approach to Turn One (fastest of season: Monza, 350km/h/217mph)

Pitlane length: 420m/0.261 miles, estimated time loss 21s (longest of season: Silverstone, 457m/0.283 miles)

Full throttle: 64 per cent (highest of season: Monza, 75 per cent)

DRS zones: Two, on the approaches to Turns 1 and 11

Key corner: Turn 10, a tricky off-camber, downhill left-hander. It's important to make a clean exit because the second DRS zone follows.

Fastest corner: 185km/h (115mph), Turn 13

Slowest corner: 80km/h (50mph), Turn 10

Major changes for 2016: None

Fuel consumption: 1.8kg per lap, making it one of the most fuel-critical races of the season. It's one of the longest races of the season and there are lots of bursts of acceleration from low speed.

ERS demands: Medium

Brake wear: High. There are eight big stops from high speed, the biggest coming at Turns One and 14

Gear changes: 52 per lap /2964 per race

Grip levels: Low. The track isn't used much during the year and when you combine that fact with the circuit's desert location, grip levels can be very low early in the weekend. The asphalt is initially very dusty and slippery, but lap times improve dramatically once the cars start to circulate.

Run-offs: Substantial, which is why track limits are a factor here. At no point around the racetrack is a driver permitted to place all four wheels beyond the white lines lining the edge of the asphalt, or they risk punishment from the FIA.

Watch out for... The track temperature. The race starts just after sunset, which means the asphalt cools dramatically during the course of the race.

Start time: 18:00hrs local/16:00hrs BST

Race distance: 57 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/43 laps)

Safety Car likelihood: 20 per cent, which is low. There have been only two Safety Car deployments in the history of the race, most recently in 2014.

When to press record: The long run to Turn One usually creates excitement, but why not check out the sunset? When the pitlane opens 30 minutes before the start, the sun is still going down and it can be spectacularly beautiful in the desert.

Don't put the kettle on... when the race reaches laps in the mid-teens and mid-30s. These were the two pitstop windows for the top four cars home in last year's race. Sebastian Vettel was the first three-stopper to finish, in fifth place.

Weather conditions: 29 degrees and sunny

Race forecast: 26 degrees, but the temperature will drop quickly once the sun has set

Tyre choices: Supersoft/Soft/Medium, which are the same as at the season-opener in Australia

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