ferrari-logo-2011Bahrain GP – A calm start in the desert

Sakhir, 19 April – A fourth race of the year, a fourth circuit and a fourth set of questions for the eleven teams in the World Championship, because the Sakhir circuit in the sands of Bahrain definitely presents challenges we have not yet encountered this season. It is therefore encouraging to note that, despite a very long list on the engineers’ job sheet, the two F138 seemed to sail calmly through the first three hours of free practice today, with no real problems emerging and a general feeling within the team that, although there is still work to do, the car is again well adapted to yet another type of track and should be competitive over the rest of the weekend.

In the hands of Chinese Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa they ended the day fourth and sixth on the time sheet, having taken the virtual front row in the morning, when the Brazilian pipped the Spaniard to the fastest time. On a Friday, laps are more important than times and the Scuderia Ferrari duo amassed 93 between them. What today’s times do tell us is that the field is very close and only 8 tenths of a second separate the fastest, Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus and the tenth man on the FP2 time sheet, Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes. Behind the Finn comes the Red Bull duo with Mark Webber, taking part in his two hundredth Grand Prix this weekend, in second place ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Splitting the two Prancing Horse cars in fifth place is Paul di Resta for Force India.

Tyres and tyre wear look set to be less of a talking point than in China, although inevitably in this heat, there are signs of degradation both on the Prime choice, the Hard Pirelli and the Option, Medium. In addition, even after the cars produce a relatively rubbered-in line around the track, the wind is constantly blowing a fine layer of sand back onto its surface. Clearly the softer of the two will be the choice for qualifying, as already today the differences in lap time between Hard and Medium ranged from around 0.4 to 1.0 seconds. However, unlike Shanghai, there will not be a mad rush to do as few laps as possible on the softer of the two come Sunday afternoon. Before then, we can look forward to what should be another thrilling and closely contested qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.

Bahrain GP – Closely matched in the desert

Fernando Alonso: “It was a positive day and we are reasonably pleased with how the car behaved. We had no major problems and more importantly, we didn’t have to make any radical changes to the F138 to adapt it to this track and its long straights and slow corners, characteristics which I like a lot and usually produce a great show in the race. Unfortunately, the wind and sand make everything a bit more complicated here, because the track surface never gets completely clean. However, the initial feelings are good and I think we can be up in the leading group tomorrow, a group that is all within the same two, maximum three tenths. We have not yet decided if we will use the aero updates we tried in the morning. It is not yet completely clear how they worked and in the afternoon, we concentrated on comparing the two tyre compounds we have for this race. Ahead of us is another long evening of studying data to choose the best strategy and set-up for qualifying and the race”.
Felipe Massa: “Everything went well today, even if it’s not easy to say at the moment where we will be on Sunday. Car balance was good and it behaved well in all conditions, even if we suffered a bit with tyre wear, especially at the rear. It’s pretty normal to have significant degradation in such high temperatures and on this front, we have a lot of work to do to prepare for the race. On the Medium tyres, the F138 worked really well, even over a long run, but the key on Sunday will be managing the degradation of both compounds, as well as deciding on whether or not to use the updates we tried here this morning”.
Pat Fry: “Of the aerodynamic updates we tried this morning, some worked well, while with others we have yet to decide if we will use them this weekend, because it is still too early to say what real advantage they bring. There was not enough time to test them fully, but I’m still pleased at how we managed to get through the work programme planned for both cars. In the afternoon session, we had a good balance on the Hard tyre, while we found it a little bit more difficult with the Medium. On this compound, Fernando was unable to improve his time, partly down to traffic, but I’m sure that tomorrow he will find a way to go better. Race pace seems good here and now we face a careful analysis of all the data we gathered to see where we are compared to our main rivals”.

ALONSO  –  chassis 299 MASSA  –  chassis 300
First Session P2 1:34.564 19 laps P1 1:34.487 11 laps
                                        Weather:  air 34/36  °C, track 44/47 °C. Sunny
Second  Session P4 1:34.310 29 laps P6 1:34.552 34 laps
                                         Weather: air 33/36  °C, track 42/45 °C. Sunny

Bahrain GP – A hot afternoon of testing

Sakhir, 19 April – The tenth Bahrain Grand Prix looks like being very closely contested as, at the end of the second free practice session, the top 6 cars were all in the same four tenths of a second.

Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa ended the day fourth and sixth, with the Spaniard doing a best lap of 1.34.310 on the Medium tyres. Massa posted a 1.34.552 on the Mediums. Quickest was Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus in 1.34.154. The Scuderia Ferrari men completed a total of 63 trouble-free laps.

The main tasks on the engineers’ job sheets centred on looking at various updates introduced this weekend, as well as some that had made their debut in Shanghai last week. In the second part of the session, Fernando and Felipe carried out the usual long runs, acquiring plenty of data in order to check the performance of the F138 in the same conditions in which the race will be run.

As usual at this event, it’s hot: 33 degrees the ambient temperature and 41 on the track surface, however, like yesterday another light rain shower hit the circuit, lasting just a couple of minutes, which is hardly usual in these parts.

Bahrain GP – New parts in the sun

Sakhir, 19 April – The tenth edition of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend started off with a one-two for Ferrari. After winning in Shanghai, Fernando Alonso set the second fastest time of 1.34.564 in the first free practice session, behind his team-mate Felipe Massa, fastest in the other F138 in a time of 1.34.487. Third, at this the fourth round of the season was the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg (1.34.621.) Both Ferrari men used just one set of Hard tyres each, for their two runs on the dusty Bahraini track. The Scuderia worked on the usual programme of acquiring data, paying particular attention to the aerodynamic behaviour of the car, looking at new parts introduced here and re-evaluating some that were already tried out last weekend in China.