2007 Bahrain GP
Team Quotes - Sunday 15 April
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton finished second in today's Bahrain Grand Prix whilst Fernando Alonso ended up fifth after struggling with the balance of his car throughout the race. In only his third Formula 1 race, Lewis finished on the podium for the third consecutive time. Both drivers were on two-stop strategies with Lewis pitting on laps 19 (9.9 seconds) and 44 (7.1 seconds) whilst Fernando pitted on laps 22 (8.4 seconds) and 43 (6.6 seconds). The Spaniard, winner of the last race in Malaysia, leads the Drivers' Championship with 22 points; Lewis and Kimi who finished third today, are both also on 22 points. In the Constructors' Championship Vodafone McLaren Mercedes are leading with 44 points.
Ron Dennis: "Even though it was not a perfect day we can leave Bahrain leading both Championships which is a great achievement for the team. Fernando struggled a bit with the balance of his car and we never really managed to perfect his set-up. Lewis was more comfortable with his car and had a great race. Our intensive R&D programme will now change up a gear and hopefully deliver a performance step that will make us even more competitive at the Spanish Grand Prix and of course we are already looking forward to the start of the European season in Barcelona."
Norbert Haug: "Fernando is leading the Drivers' Championship with 22 points, Lewis having had three races and three podium finishes and the team retaining the lead in the Constructors' Championship it is a very good start to the season. We will all now be working hard to be the best prepared team at the start of the European season in four weeks time in Barcelona."
The ING Renault F1 Team endured a difficult afternoon at the Bahrain International Circuit, placing its cars 8th and 9th in the 2007 Bahraini Grand Prix, with Giancarlo Fisichella ahead of team-mate Heikki Kovalainen.
After qualifying 7th and 12th, the team knew it was unable to compete with the top three teams on pure pace, and that without retirements in front, 7th and 8th was the maximum possible result this afternoon. After Heikki Kovalainen made a strong, aggressive start to gain three positions, this seemed an achievable target. However, both drivers struggled for pace on their longest race stints (the first for Kovalainen, the second for Fisichella) and although they defended their positions as aggressively as possible, each lost ground that they were unable to regain later in the race.
Giancarlo Fisichella's single point maintains his point-scoring run during the start of the 2007 season, and means the ING Renault F1 Team remains fourth in the Constructors' Championship, with a total of nine points.
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director: This is where we are at the moment, fighting for the final points positions. We didn't expect the situation to change very much in the space of a week, and the race met those expectations. Both drivers did a strong job, but the car doesn't have the pace. There is a lot of hard work ahead of us to improve the situation, beginning with the four-week break before the next race.
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: Once again, the team's overall performance was dictated by the car's current level of performance. With three teams in front of us that are clearly quicker, our race is for 7th place at the moment. The drivers did as much as they could today, and the mechanics once again worked hard to prepare reliable cars for them to maintain our 100% finishing record. In the race itself, both drivers seemed to struggle with tyre performance on their longest stints, but this does not explain our overall position. Our hard work will now continue back at the factory to get on top of our problems – and start moving forward.
Second win of the season for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro: after victory for Kimi Raikkonen in Melbourne, this time at Sakhir it was Felipe Massa's turn. This is Felipe's third career win and the second for the Scuderia at this circuit. For Ferrari, this is win number 194 from 744 Grand Prix starts.
Jean Todt: Pole position, quickest race lap and the win: a truly perfect weekend for Felipe. This great result was completed with a third place for Kimi, which helped bring home some precious points for the two Championships. It was a very had and closely contested race, with three teams in the running. We have made up ground in both classifications and now we plan to make the most of the weeks leading up to the race in Barcelona to try and improve every aspect of our package, from performance to reliability. I want to thank our technical partners, first and foremost Shell and Bridgestone, which in its new role as sole tyre supplier, has provided the teams with two types of tyre that are competitive and consistent in terms of performance. We can see that the fight for the titles will be very tight.
Luca Baldisserri: That was a really great race, especially from Felipe, who has been very quick all weekend. It was a shame that Kimi's race was compromised after he lost a place after the start. He managed to get by Alonso in the pit stop, but having shortened the second stint, he was unable to do the same thing to Hamilton, even though he had completely closed up the gap that had grown in the previously. The two F2007 worked very well and there were no technical problems at all. This is result is a reward for all the hard work from the team here at Sakhir and in Maranello, after a difficult weekend in Sepang. Now there is a bit of a break in the calendar and we will have to make the most of it to improve our performance and up the level of reliability of the cars. In the Barcelona test prior to the race at the same track, we will have some new parts, but we know that our rivals won't be standing still either.
The Honda Racing F1 Team's Rubens Barrichello brought his Honda RA107 home in 13th place today after a tough weekend in Bahrain. His team-mate Jenson Button's race was brought to a premature conclusion after just three corners when he was caught up in a first lap battle for position.
The team were resigned to another frustrating race pending the opportunity to introduce development steps to a currently uncompetitive package. Their focus now lies with the work taking place back at the factory, coupled with a return to the test track prior to next month's Spanish Grand Prix.
Jacky Eeckelaert, Engineering Director: "Unfortunately we had realistic expectations heading into this race and our performance today has only served to underline the problems that we have with our current package. Whilst Jenson did not even get the chance to complete a lap due to a third corner incident, Rubens did a valiant job of fighting to the finish with what was clearly a very difficult car to drive. All we can do now is put these first races behind us and return to base, where every bit of our focus, resource and effort is being directed towards turning our situation around."
In the third world championship round of the season the BMW Sauber F1 Team equaled its best race result so far by finishing fourth and sixth. Nick Heidfeld improved from fifth on the grid to finish the race in fourth, and scored five points for the team for the third consecutive race. Robert Kubica finished sixth to collect his first points of the year. The last time the team scored eight points in a race was in the Australian Grand Prix in 2006.
Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): This was the strongest performance of the BMW Sauber F1 Team so far. Not only did we score eight points, but Nick's fourth place is really a special one. We were able to match the pace of the top cars and Nick was even able to overtake World Champion Fernando Alonso on the track. Unfortunately an open fuel filler cover disturbed the aerodynamics of Robert's car, but also for him I am very pleased he scored his first points of the season. At the end of the day the third race of the season was another step forward for the team.
Willy Rampf (Technical Director): This was the best race for our young team. Right from the start we were able to match the pace of the top teams. Nick's overtaking manouevre was, of course, a true highlight. A big compliment to the entire crew here in Bahrain, especially for the pit stops which were excellent. Also a big compliment to the teams in Hinwil and Munich who gave us the equipment to achieve such a strong performance.
Panasonic Toyota Racing has secured its third consecutive points finish of 2007 courtesy of Jarno Trulli's fine 7th place at the Bahrain International Circuit. After the mixed weather of the previous few days at Sakhir, the race took place on a hot and sunny day with track temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius. Jarno and team-mate Ralf Schumacher lined up in 9th and 14th places respectively on the grid. Both lost ground at the start before an early accident brought out the safety car. But Jarno battled hard and made up places by passing both Renaults on the way to two points. Ralf's day was tougher but he brought his car home in 12th place to maintain the team's 100 percent reliability record. Toyota will now look to build on this solid start to the season make up ground on the front-runners. The next major test is scheduled for Barcelona beginning on April 30 in preparation for the next round of the championship, the Spanish Grand Prix, which will take place at the same circuit on May 13.
John Howett – TMG President: That was a very tough but exciting race for us and Jarno did an unbelievable job. He overtook when he had to and he defended his position when he had to. In the end he was able to pass cars, including both Renaults, while under pressure from several cars behind him. When we saw that he was fast we went for a long second stint and that should have enabled him to pass the Red Bulls too. That was despite a top speed which was down compared to qualifying so we will have to analyse the reasons for that. The starts did not go as well as expected either and we lost positions with both cars. We have to solve that because there's no point in fighting so hard in qualifying if we are going to lose out off the line. Ralf always had a hard race from where he was on the grid but he did well to bring the car home. Now we have to help him and make the car more driveable for him. Overall it was a solid race and we finished where we thought we were after qualifying – the fourth fastest team – so it's good to see concrete evidence. This weekend we have shown a continued improvement of our performance after Melbourne and Sepang. So although we are not where we want to be and we still have to improve the overall pace, it's encouraging.
Frustrating is the only way to describe today's race. Driving an aggressive strategy, David was a candidate for driver of the day. He overtook more than ten cars and looked set for a strong points finish, only for a driveshaft related failure to force his retirement. Mark made a good start and pushed Fisichella very hard in the first stint. Unfortunately he lost time in the second stint due to a fuel flap failure and, ultimately, a gear box issue caused him to retire. We need to get on top of these reliability issues very quickly, as obviously they're unacceptable. However, we can see that we've continued to make progress and should have had two cars in the points today.
Fabrice Lom, Renault Principal Engineer, Track Support: Although both cars retired today, I think it is still a positive day. We showed a very good level of performance and our engine worked once again well. Our pace today was very encouraging, David did an aggressive race, overtook several competitors. Of course we are disappointed not to finish but we should be satisfied by what has been achieved so far, especially after the tough winter we went through. We look forward the next race to confirm our competitiveness and will work hard before the Spanish Grand Prix.
The AT&T Williams team brought both cars home at the Bahrain Grand Prix, with neither experiencing any technical problems. Nico Rosberg and Alex Wurz crossed the line in the same positions from which they started the race, 10th and 11th respectively, but the team's efforts weren't rewarded with points today. Formula One will now break from racing for four weeks before the European season starts in Spain on 13th May. In preparation for the race, AT&T Williams will spend three valuable days testing at the Barcelona track in two weeks' time.
Sam Michael, Technical Director: We finished where we qualified so not really what we wanted out of the afternoon. We didn't have the best starts and it was hard to make any progress through the traffic as there are a lot of cars out there all very close in terms of performance. It was therefore quite difficult to make any headway using strategy, or by the drivers overtaking on the track. Both cars were reliable though and finished the race with no problems. We'll now look ahead to the next Grand Prix in Europe and will spend the ensuing few weeks' getting to get some more performance out of the FW29.
Franz Tost: A disappointing Sunday afternoon with neither of our cars finishing. First came Scott's crash and then Tonio had to retire with hydraulic problems. A shame as the strategy change we made when we called Tonio in during the Safety Car period was a good decision and might have seen him finish at least close to the points positions. At least now we have a few weeks ahead of us before the next race, so we can use that time to sort out our problems and be better prepared for the race in Barcelona.
Despite achieving its weekend objective, the race was not without incident for either driver. On the first lap, Adrian was a victim of a clash between Jenson Button and Scott Speed. Running just behind the two when they touched coming into turn four, Adrian was unable to avoid the accident debris and damaged his nosebox. The German came into the pits for a nosecone change under the ensuing safety car period, however lost three laps to the field when technicians discovered the nose pins had been damaged and required extensive repairs. Out of contention but undeterred, Adrian pushed hard throughout the race to make up one lap up on team-mate Christijan.
Christijan had a good start to move up three places and put pressure on Barrichello in the early stages of the race. The Dutchman put in some consistent lap times mid-race despite struggling with oversteer, but his pace was limited by a hydraulic problem in the final 10 laps.
Pleased nevertheless with achieving its weekend objective of getting two cars to the finish, the team now goes back to its UK base to continue its development work.
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer: It's good to get two cars to the finish. Adrian obviously had a problem on the first lap when he lost his nosebox. With the safety car period afterwards, it would not normally be a problem, but unfortunately he had bent the nosebox pins. We were able to fix it though and get him out, albeit three laps down, and he drove a strong race with very good pace. Christijan had a few problems in race, especially in the last stint where he lost hydraulic pressure and clutch and diff control. It's positive though to get two cars to the finish, a lot of our rivals didn't get there, and from this we can get stronger and start to move forward.
Colin Kolles, team principal and managing director: Getting two cars to the finish is a great reward for all the efforts of the mechanics here and guys back at the factory, they've put a lot of work in over the last two races, so well done to them. It was our goal this weekend, but now we've got to look forward to the rest of the season and continue to progress.
Super Aguri drivers Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson both encountered engine trouble during an extremely demanding 2007 Bahrain Grand Prix. For the first time since the 2006 German Grand Prix, both SA07 cars unfortunately failed to see the chequered flag.
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: We have had a relatively good weekend in Bahrain. We were able to improve the cars' performance over the three days, although Taku's set-up was not as clearly defined throughout the weekend as Anthony's. Both drivers and the team did a great job during the race without any mistakes, so it is unfortunate that neither car was able to finish due to engine trouble. We shall now look ahead to our test in Barcelona and the race there in a few weeks.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa has won the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, beating McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton by 2.3 seconds. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) took third position, just 8.5 seconds behind Hamilton.
Massa converted the 100th pole position on Bridgestone Potenzas at the 5.4 km Bahrain International Circuit into his third race win in 74 Grands Prix, setting the race's fastest lap on the way. Hamilton started the race from the front row for the first time in his three race Formula One career, and kept the pressure on Massa for the entirety of the race.
Nick Heidfeld underlined the pace of the BMW Sauber package by finishing in fourth place, ahead of Malaysian Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso (McLaren Mercedes). Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber) took sixth, ahead of dicing Italians Jarno Trulli (Toyota) and Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) who took the final championship points.
Kees van de Grint, Bridgestone Motorsport Head of Track Engineering Operations: It was an exciting race thanks in the first place to the drivers and also to the television producer for following all of the action throughout the field. I also believe that Bridgestone was an important contributor to the excitement by producing a very well suited high performance Potenza tyre which has allowed three different winners in as many races. Our medium compound was the preferred choice here and performed extremely well. The hard was clearly less favourable in all aspects.