19/04/2012

F1 weekend preview!

The forth round of the 2012 FIA Forumla One World Championship takes place at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. Bahrain actually has a large Indian population and so the grand prix is somewhat of a home race for the Indian contingent, in a sense anyway.

I was hoping to avoid press about the political situation in Bahrain this weekend but recent developments have made that impossible for me. If you have not yet heard, a 4x4 car carrying four Sahara Force India mechanics was attacked with petrol bombs and Molotov cocktails. Additionally, tear gas, fired by police, entered the car. Thankfully no-one was injured in the incident but it sure did shake some members of the team up. Infact two team members have been sent home as a result. Not the most ideal preparation for the weekend as driver Nico Hulkenberg discussed with the media:

"It is obviously not right that that sort of stuff happens. We are here to race. The F1 business is about entertainment, and these sort of things should not really be happening to us. Whether it is right or not I don't really know. It's difficult to say. I am not a politician, I am a Formula 1 driver, but it should not really be happening should it? It is not good that we have to worry about it: that is the way it is now, and let's see and hope that the rest of the weekend is good and calm. I feel okay".

... nevertheless the team must plough on regardless. The aim for the weekend will be to score points once again, and hopefully this will be the last race where the team are slightly off the pace (a big upgrade is coming after this race). Having said that, an interesting factor in Bahrain will be high track temperatures - it's something we've not seen so far this season and so we may well see a complete mix up of the running order once again as different teams will perform differently under these different conditions.

Note: the two team members who have been sent home is not a problem. If they had a job which wasn't able to be covered by their colleagues then they will not have been allowed to leave so there's no need to worry about this affecting team performance.

Meanwhile Narain Karthikeyan will have the same aim once more, perform better than teammate de la Rosa and qualify within 107% of the fastest Q1 time to be able to start the race. I have to admit i do feel sad for Narain. He clearly has talent, even if it's sometimes inconsistent, but in a car like the HRT he can't really show his skills and impress a team higher up the grid. Nevertheless, i suppose a F1 drive is better than no F1 drive!

Here is what our guys had to say about the weekend ahead:

Paul di Resta
(Sahara Force India driver):
"We will have the same car in Bahrain because it’s just a few days away, but it's a very different track and we expect different weather conditions so we will try to make the most out of that. The team have some good ideas because we have not raced there for a couple of years and nobody has had a chance to run on Pirellis there yet".

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver):
"I enjoy the track, which has quite a nice rhythm and some technical corners, such as turns nine and ten. It's in the desert and sand can be an issue on the track, but it really depends on the strength and direction of the wind. I think the secret to a good lap is not to be too aggressive into the braking zones because you need to carry good speed through the middle of the corners and get early on the throttle to carry the speed onto the straights. Overtaking is possible, especially into turn one because you can pick up a good slipstream down the straight".

Vijay Mallya (Sahara Force India team principle):
"Although we missed out on points in China, we take encouragement from our race pace, which showed that the developments we are bringing to the car are paying off and that we are closing the gap to our midfield rivals. It's easy to point to statistics, but Paul finished the race just 22 seconds away from second place and seven and half seconds away from seventh place. It shows that we can stay in the hunt for points and that we have the potential to make some good progress when the championship returns to Europe and we can make further improvements to the car. Bahrain this week will be another tough test, but it's a circuit with different characteristics and climate. We picked up points the last time we raced in Bahrain in 2010 so we will approach the weekend determined to deliver a repeat performance".

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver):
"I don't know the circuit in Bahrain so I'm going to have to be extra focused and make the most of my time in the car. We have an idea of what we think the set-up should be, so we’ll see if this works. We're going to try a few things in Bahrain and, hopefully, this will help us to improve and progress further. What I do know about this track is that the weather is going to be very hot and we've struggled a bit in hot conditions this season so far because of the cooling system in the car, so we're going to have to work very hard on this. After a good performance in Malaysia, we'll be looking to further reduce the gap to the group ahead of us".

Of course Auto India Sports wishes the Indian contingent the very best of luck this weekend! Although more importantly we hope everyone remains safe - and that goes for everyone involved with Formula One.

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