This weekend sees the second round of the 2012 GP2 Series take place at the 5.412 km Sakhir International Circuit, Bahrain as part of the F1 Grand Prix event. The circuit is a mixture of slow and medium speed corners with several fast straights so chassis set-up will be important to set fast laps and win the race.
The first round of this year’s Series, which took place one month ago at Sepang, proved very successful for the Racing Engineering team with three point scoring finishes. In the Feature Race Fabio Leimer finished a fighting 4th less than one second away from a podium place. The Sprint Race saw Fabio once again battling hard to finish 6th whilst Nathanaël Berthon was 8th to score his first points in the 2012 Series.
Although the GP2 cars have raced at Bahrain before, the last race was in February 2010 as part of the GP2 Asia Series. Therefore any data the teams have from previous races will be rendered largely irrelevant as they have no experience of the 2012 Dallara chassis with its Pirelli tyres on this track so all the teams will be starting from the same point when practice starts on Friday morning.
Following on from their success at Sepang both Racing Engineering drivers will be looking to finish on the podium at Bahrain.
Below Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón, president of Racing Engineering, talks about the weekend to come:
How would you summarize the first 2012 GP2 race meeting in Malaysia? Where the team's expectations met?
Yes and no. We were obviously there to win, but although that did not happen, Fabio finished both races in the points. It was a pity a mistake in the last corner cost him a front row start and complicated his tyre situation in the feature race significantly. Having all this in mind, the results were actually not bad. As for Nat, pity about qualifying, but he definitely is a racer. He made up quite a few positions in the first race, and scored points in the second race. Considering where he started, he did a great job.
The team travels to Bahrain this week, where the second round of the championship is held. How did the preparation work look like?
Lots of work by the engineers and drivers, work on the simulator and set up work for the cars. I am quite happy with the work of our technical team and what will be the solutions for most situations we will encounter in Bahrain. We will obviously have to watch the tyres, but we know where we stand.
For Nathanaël, just like Sepang, it will be the first time he races on this track. Fabio has driven once in Bahrain during the GP2 Asia Series. How does this change the work for the team?
Sepang was a new track for both of our drivers and they adapted very quickly, so I don't think it will be a problem for Nat. The simulator work obviously helps. I think he might suffer a bit in qualifying, but don't think he will have a disadvantage in the races. As for Fabio, he knows the place. Although it will be with different tires and a different car, it's the same for everyone. Not being familiar with Sepang at all, he almost made it to the front row, so I am sure they will quickly feel comfortable. Working on our simulator obviously helps us tremendously.
With its sequence of long straights and low speed corners, the Bahrain track means braking is a crucial factor. What else are the specialties of this track and what does it require from car and its driver?
A good set up is important, especially for qualifying. I think it will come down to the right mixture between the speed on the long straights and good traction in the slow speed corners. But for the races, the tyres have to work perfectly, or they will suffer in Bahrain, especially with the heat and sand from the desert. I also think both drivers brake hard, so it might be an advantage for them in overtaking. We know Nat loves to overtake, so it will most probably be an advantage for him. The layout is also good for Fabio. He is good in hard braking corners.
After a positive season opener in Sepang, what are the expectations for the upcoming race event in Bahrain?
Obviously it’s to win. But I definitely want both drivers in the points for the rest of the season, with our aim at having them both on the podium for both races. It won't be easy work since there are many good drivers and teams. Qualifying is so close, so we really need to squeeze everything out of our drivers and cars.
Timetable (UK time):
Practice: Fri 20 Apr 2012, 09:55
Qualifying: Fri 20 Apr 2012, 13:55
Race 1: Sat 21 Apr 2012, 13:40
Race 2: Sun 22 Apr 2012, 08:35