After the heat and humidity of Malaysia, the Formula 1 circus was expecting to be baking in hot sunshine in Bahrain also. But, so far, the air temperatures have been unusually cool – high twenties Celsius rather than high thirties Celsius – and as a result the track temperatures have been significantly lower than expected.
As usual, FP1 was focused on correlating the performance of a small number of new components with the figures indicated by aero research back at the McLaren Technology Centre. That work was accomplished efficiently, Jenson and Kevin recording fifth- and seventh-fastest times respectively.
In the evening, the air and track temperatures dropped significantly, making the achievement of optimal operating temperatures for tyres more difficult. However, Jenson and Kevin coped well in the conditions, running through their planned programmes without mishap.
:Jenson Button MP4-29-04
- FP1. 1m38.636s (+1.134s) 16 laps 5th
- FP2. 1m35.528s (+1.203s) 21 laps 6th
“The conditions in the evening [FP2] were very different from the conditions in the afternoon [FP1]. There was no significant difference in terms of sighting braking points and apices under lights; no, the key difference was the lower air and track temperature. As you’d expect, on cooler asphalt, in FP2, it was much more difficult to get temperature into the tyres, but on the other hand you didn’t have as much degradation, so there was a trade-off there. It was the same for everyone, of course, but there’s still a gap between us and the fastest cars – in fact I don’t think anyone is really happy with their car except Mercedes – so we’ve got a lot of work to do. But we’re pushing as hard as we can to do that work and close that gap.”
Kevin Magnussen MP4-29-01:
- FP1. 1m38.949s (+1.447s) 15 laps 7th
- FP2. 1m35.662s (+1.337s) 22 laps 9th
“Today we got through our planned programme well, and our car seems to be working okay on this circuit; it feels like a pretty decent racing car here, in fact, but obviously it’s still too early to say much for sure. We’re quite a bit off the pace of the quickest cars, of course, but I reckon we’ve got a slightly better chance to make up for that here owing to the cooler air and track temperatures. Also, apart from the quickest cars, the field seems to be pretty well bunched. If it stays like that, hopefully we’ll have an opportunity to qualify decently tomorrow, which should place us well in terms of scoring points on Sunday. But it’s early days yet, so let’s wait and see.”
Eric Boullier, Racing director, McLaren Mercedes: “Today was a pretty straightforward day, in which we achieved most of what we set out to do. In FP1 Jenson and Kevin ended up P5 and P7 respectively, which was a good start. In FP2, which took place in the comparative cool of the evening, we found our cars to be better balanced and possessing of more grip – as expected – but the same applied to our rivals, leaving Jenson in P6, and Kevin in P9. But Friday is all about performance development, and it’s clear that our high-fuel runs still require further work. Our engineers are already engaged on the issue, however, and I’m confident we’ll make progress overnight.”
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