The Bahrain Grand Prix proved to be of one of constrasting circumstances for Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen. Both drivers ran different strategies during the race, and while Lewis Hamilton challenged at the front and eventually finished 4th, Heikki Kovalainen had a poor start and could only manage 12th.
After the race, Team Principal, admitted that Kovalainen’s poor pace was as a result of starting the Finn on the Prime option tyre, which dropped the Mclaren number two well down the order.
Despite this, Hamilton’s strong Race performance has proved that Mclaren have made progress, and the team hope that they can take another significant step forward in Barcelona.
Lewis Hamilton – 4th: “I’m delighted with fourth. The Toyotas, Red Bulls and Brawns were so fast in the high-speed corners that it was just impossible to keep up. But this is another encouraging step for the team, we just need to keep working on the car because we’re not really fighting back quite yet, we are collecting points. And the gap will be bigger when we go to Barcelona because it’s a high-downforce circuit. We should challenge for the top 10 there, but another top-five will be harder.”
Heikki Kovalainen – 12th: “My start was a disaster. Obviously, to begin the race on the prime tyre was the wrong choice. The harder tyres didn’t have the right grip and soon started to deteriorate. The tyres started vibrating even though there wasn’t a flat-spot. After my first pitstop the car felt much better, but by then it was too late to improve dramatically. Anyway, the pace was not very good. We now need to go away and analyse why our performance was not good enough today. We’ll be working even harder to improve it ahead of the next race in Barcelona.”
Martin Whitmarsh – team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “A great drive by Lewis today; he made no mistakes during the race and pushed aggressively. Without the pace to match the Toyotas, Brawns or Red Bulls, fourth place was a very strong result and it’s even more pleasing that we are steadily moving closer to their pace. A podium was in our grasp today but we didn’t quite make it.
“With Heikki, we fuelled him long and took a risk starting on the prime tyre. But we had to stop earlier than anticipated and lost too much time among other cars attempting a similar strategy, so that was disappointing. Overall, however this circuit possibly flattered us a little, but we’ve nonetheless made substantial progress over the past few weeks. Our competitors won’t stand still but we will keep improving until we get back to where we expect to be at the front.”
Norbert Haug vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “This was a step forward, no doubt. Likewise I think the nature of this racetrack at one of our home races here in Bahrain and Lewis’s driving skills helped us as much to achieve this result as our KERS hybrid, which is worth nearly half a second per lap around here. As for Heikki his race was basically over in the first lap traffic jam.
“Everybody in the team is well aware of the fact that we need to produce further dramatic improvements to MP4-24 in order to come back to where we used to be. Congratulations to BrawnGP for the third win in their fourth race ‘powered by Mercedes-Benz.’
“Again, our engine guys did everything to keep the customer satisfied, and that is a very good feeling for everybody involved at Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines in Brixworth as well as in Stuttgart. Well done!”