LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) - Williams expect little advantage from
being the only Formula One team with experience of Bahrain's new
circuit before the inaugural grand prix there next week.
The race at the $150 million Sakhir track is next up on April 4
and will be Formula One's first appearance in the Middle East.
Spanish test driver Marc Gene took the 2003 Williams FW25 around
it for 25 laps last Wednesday at the official opening ceremony.
"I don't think it will be anything that will be enormous in terms
of having a clear advantage through practice or anything like that,"
said technical director Patrick Head of the information gleaned by
"Clearly we will know a little bit more about corner speeds and
ratios and things like that.
"But the car that we were running was last year's FW25 and I'd be
very disappointed if we're not a lot quicker there with the FW26.
"If we have an advantage, it will be pretty small and, by the time
we start the second practice on Friday, it will have disappeared."
Williams are fighting to keep up with Ferrari and six-times world
champion Michael Schumacher, who have won both the races so far this
Bahrain, with high temperatures and the danger of sand blowing
around, will be a challenge to all 10 teams.
Head said the track had also been so dusty and dirty, with some
sand blowing around, that Gene's experience did not have a lot of
relevance, although grip levels were a lot better than expected.
"The night before there were still people out laying kerbstones
and painting. They've done a remarkable job in the time but I should
be careful where you put your hands in case the paint is still wet."
McLaren boss Ron Dennis told a news conference at Sunday's
Malaysian Grand Prix he felt Williams, who use the same Michelin tyres
as his team, had gained some useful data.
"We like to survey the circuits with GPS (Global Positioning
Systems) and I think that gives you the ability to very accurately put
those parameters into your simulation tools," he said.
"So I think Williams have a small advantage there and we were a
bit disappointed to be denied the opportunity to actually go and do
Dennis said McLaren had been committed to running a car at the new
circuit in Shanghai, which hosts China's first grand prix in October,
between Malaysia and Bahrain but that opportunity did not happen.