Bahrain Grand Prix: Caterham preview

Apr.16 (Caterham Press Release) Team preview report

General
Race laps: 56
Track length: 5,412 metres
Air / Track temp (°C): 34 / 49
Pitlane altitude (m): 20
ATM Press (HPa): 1006
Hum (%): 1012
Wind (kph): SW 10

Quick description
Back to 2009 track layout
Sandy track surface at start of sessions and off-line throughout weekend
Altitude is relevant
Bumps and kerbs are not an issues
High brake energy
Usually very windy, can negatively affect car behaviour in high speed corners
Hot and very dry ambient conditions
Braking and traction instability are usually main issues
1st gear used in T1
Usually require short 1st gear for launch due to high grip levels
7th gear requires particular attention due to possibility of strong tail / head winds

Circuit particularity
Bumpiness: low
Overtaking chance: T1
Kerbs: smooth / medium
Ride height setting particularity: usually low
Engine severity: high
Gearbox severity: medium
Lat / Long grip: longitudinal
Aero eff ratio: medium / low
Safety car history: 2011 – n/a, 2010 – n/a, 2009 – none
Track grip evo during w/e: high
Aero settings: high
Brake wear severity: high
Brake cooling necessity: high

Heikki Kovalainen: “Bahrain is another one of the typical modern circuits. It doesn’t have any really challenging corners and you can push hard for most of the lap, particularly over the kerbs which are pretty easy on the cars. As the track surface is rubbered in grip levels improve dramatically, so you’ll see laptimes dropping fast over the weekend, and that means you have to be on it for qualifying, to make sure you can get the most of out the session.

“Apart from the track conditions, one of the main technical areas we will be focusing on in Bahrain is braking. The high ambient temperatures and the nature of the track mean we will be spending quite a lot of Friday’s practice sessions managing brake cooling and wear rates, so we are as well prepared as possible for qualifying and the race.”

Vitaly Petrov: “Bahrain is where I made my F1 debut back in 2010 so it’s a track that means a lot to me. I had great support when we last raced there and I’m sure it’ll be the same this year with Caterham F1 Team.

“From the driver’s point of view it’s a pretty technical circuit and one where you need to have a really good balance and make sure you nail every apex to get the best lap times in. That’s particularly true in the last sector and if you can get that right you can make up, and lose, a lot of time there.

“The sand obviously affects everyone the same, and it’ll be interesting on Saturday to see how late everyone leaves their Q1 runs. The track gets more and more quick with every lap, and that means you have to be pretty bold with your strategy to make sure you give yourself the best possible shot at a good quali lap.”

Mark Smith, Technical Director: “The Bahrain circuit present us with several challenges, the most obvious being its desert location. The track surface is always pretty sandy at the beginning of each session and this means we see a reasonably high level of grip evolution throughout the course of the race weekend. On top of this, the sandy atmosphere means we have to pay special attention to both air filtration and the general mechanical assemblies, to prevent accelerated wear.

“The ambient temperatures will be hot and dry as expected, but the wind will also play quite a significant role throughout the weekend. The wind direction can change very suddenly and we have to take that into account when we are making final decisions on gear ratios, particularly top gear with KERS and DRS usage factored in. Significant demands are also placed on the brakes in Bahrain and it will be important to get the balance right between controlling brake temperatures and wear rate, without losing too much outright performance. This means that car setup work for each day on track will have a heavy focus towards providing a stable platform to meet the demands of both heavy braking and each traction event throughout the lap. Finally, the tyres allocated for Bahrain will be the medium and soft compounds which will also have been used in China. Hopefully this means we will have learnt a bit more about their optimum usage, albeit in a different ambient environment, and we will see how we can apply that knowledge over the race weekend.”

Ends