Making a mark - Q&A with Nick Chester

The team heads to Bahrain with added incentive after Melbourne. Chassis Technical Director Nick Chester reflects on round one and explains the key challenges of Bahrain.

What are the main characteristics of the Bahrain International Circuit?
It’s an event with sessions running into the evening so there can be varying temperatures between practice, qualifying and race. It can therefore be quite a big challenge in terms of striking a setup on the car and understanding the different characteristics. The track is usually dusty early in the weekend because of the sand and also the wind can be strong. Apart from that, it’s a conventional circuit compared to Melbourne and should be more representative for pace. FP1 and FP3 are during the day, so FP2, at night, is where you tend to conduct all the learning for the weekend.

What did the team learn from the season-opening Grand Prix?
Australia was a mixed weekend. We didn’t qualify where the cars deserved to be in terms of pace and that was down to execution in some areas and a reliability problem which is now understood. It shows the midfield is so close and that any small mistake or dip in performance means you’ll lose places on the grid. Unfortunately, we experienced that quite directly.

The reality is, the lower down the grid you qualify, the more likely the risks of damaging the car are. Elsewhere throughout the weekend, we tested some new parts, played around with different setups and learnt a decent amount. It’s quite clear, though, we have some work to do to move away from the midfield, which is where we want to be.

What is the team’s approach heading to the second race?
We have some bodywork updates linked to cooling to deal with the heat as well as some mechanical and aero updates: it’s about pushing on and developing the cars quickly in order to add performance.