FIA Formula One World Championship - Round 3 Bahrain GP, 2-4 April 2004 Free Practice

April 2, 2004 B.A.R Honda's Anthony Davidson third fastest in Bahrain

Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's Anthony Davidson, Jenson Button and Takuma Sato finished third, seventh and 12th overall in Friday free practice at the Bahrain International Circuit in preparation for the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday. Located in the south of the country, the brand new Sakhir circuit is 5.417km long and is made up of 15 turns, including one high-speed, a couple of medium-speed and several low-speed corners. There are three genuine overtaking opportunities, the most exciting expected to be the downhill run into the hairpin at the back of the circuit. The new track basked in glorious sunshine (air 31, track 50 degrees) as the drivers made their way out for the first time for morning free practice. Anthony Davidson, B.A.R Honda's third driver, got to grips with the circuit quickly, clocking the third fastest time of 1m32.958s and completing 19 laps. Jenson and Takuma covered 25 laps between them and finished fifth and 10th respectively. Anthony continued to impress in the afternoon session, running for the most number of laps (29), and setting the third fastest time of the day, a 1m31.488s, four hundredths of a second off the fastest time, which was set by Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello. The B.A.R Honda driver also registered the fastest speed of 326km per hour through the end of straight speed trap. Jenson completed 22 laps and finished seventh overall with a time of 1m31.879s. With just under 10 minutes to go, the Briton suffered a puncture to his left rear tyre and had to return to the garage. Takuma covered 16 laps and finished 12th with a time of 1m32.680s. Takuma had an equally eventful session, being forced to abort what looked set to be a blisteringly quick lap with 20 minutes left, as he ran over debris from Fernando Alonso's Renault and had to return to pit lane for damage assessment and repair. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) was fastest in Bahrain with a time of 1m31.450s, closely followed by Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) and B.A.R Honda's Anthony Davidson. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), Christian Klien (Jaguar) and Ralf Schumacher (Williams) finished in fourth, fifth and sixth place. Shuhei Nakamoto - Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development "Overall it's been a good day for all three drivers. We've managed to complete a good number of laps, and as a result have been able to test a lot of different things, which is very important as this is the first time for everybody at the new Bahrain circuit." Anthony Davidson Position: 3rd "I've had a very positive day today and I'm really pleased to end it in third. The circuit just kept getting faster and faster with each lap we did as more and more rubber went down, but that has made tyre choice quite difficult. We have a lot of data to go through after such a reliable day's running with all three cars, so there's a lot of work to be done this evening. I think the track is great; they've done a fantastic job with the layout. There are some nice undulations and the heavy braking zones mean it's quite difficult to string a clean lap together because you have to be careful not to overshoot on braking into the first gear corners and then concentrate on getting a clean exit. I think overtaking will be tough in the race; there are opportunities but its very dirty off-line. A good first day though and it looks like our car is going to be strong here. It's just disappointing that I can't stay to race here myself!" Jenson Button Position: 7th "The session was encouraging and I am relatively happy with the performance of the car. It was tough to do any testing in the sessions and work on set-up because the circuit kept changing and improving every lap. It will be difficult to know which tyres to choose but we are lucky that we run three cars and Anthony did a lot of laps, so we will go through all the data tonight and we should have more information about what will work best. "I like the layout of the circuit. There are some really good high-speed corners and the low-speed corners are not just low speed 1st or 2nd gear corners; they actually have a bit of interest to them and you do have to work at them. On line, the circuit is really rubbering in, but it's very dusty off the circuit. If you run off the track there is so much dust and you lose a lot of time. I think that it will be pretty close competition this weekend, similar to Malaysia. If we are strong for the rest of the weekend then we will be fighting for a podium position, and definitely in the points. It's going to be very exciting." Takuma Sato Position: 12th "It has been a very good start for us considering this is a brand new circuit. We haven't experienced any major problems so have been able to do some good work with the tyres and set-up. The circuit is very interesting to drive and the track conditions changed considerably during the day. When we started out this morning it was very 'green' and dusty but it has improved a lot with the amount of running today. There was actually a lot of grip on the line towards the end of the day so I was able to keep improving my lap time. It was a shame that I lost six or seven tenths on what would have been my fastest lap of the day when I picked up debris from Alonso's Renault, so there is a lot more to come from me and the car here