He may be starting only fifth in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but still Lewis Hamilton is one of the biggest threats to Toyota's hopes of glory in the desert kingdom – that is the contention of Timo Glock, who along with pole-sitting team-mate Jarno Trulli will be bidding to finally bring to an end the big-budget Japanese manufacturer's long and painful wait for Formula 1 victory today.
Trulli and Glock stormed to a front row lock-out for Toyota in qualifying – and by some margin – but the team has concerns about not only the more heavily-fuelled Sebastian Vettel behind in third, but also brake issues [see separate story – click here
] and, perhaps somewhat more surprisingly, the KERS-equipped McLaren-Mercedes of the reigning F1 World Champion.
“The best KERS car is Lewis Hamilton in P5,” Glock underlined, “and that could be a little worry for us up to the first corner. I think the KERS cars have shown that they are really, really strong at the start, so I hope we have a clean start and not the same problems that we had in Malaysia and get a clean race.”
Glock has already tasted podium champagne in 2009, courtesy of third place in the torrential downpour of Sepang, and thanks to a combination of pre-season testing in Sakhir and improvements to the TF109, he knows he has an excellent chance of adding to that tally this weekend. It has not all, however, been trouble-free, as he revealed.
“We had problems on Friday,” the 26-year-old explained. “I struggled quite a lot with the brakes and was far away from the testing pace, and overnight we had a lot of stuff to change. We found a lot and it worked out because we were quickest in FP3 so I was really happy with the car, but after that suddenly the engine went off and we had a little bit of an electrical problem. We found that quite quickly and were able to repair it in time, but then in qualifying the wind changed a bit and we struggled in Q1 on the prime tyres. The car was a bit more pointy and nervous and I couldn't get the lap together.
“After that I was quite happy in Q2 on my last run, but in Q3 I was still struggling a bit to get used to the heavier fuel load from low fuel in Q2. After turn eight I knew it would not work out for pole because I made a mistake and Jarno is really, really good in qualifying, but in the end I have to be happy with the first row for Toyota and it is really good for the team – a perfect result. Thanks to the mechanics for all their hard work in the last four weeks. I think it was one of the toughest beginnings of the season for them and it is a good result for us.
“I don't think we've made a big step – just some small improvements on the car, so nothing big to notice. We have just put everything together this time and had no trouble, and the car was closer to that which we knew from winter testing. Maybe that's due to the fact that we tested more here, but in the end the result in qualifying is just the result of everything going smoothly and us getting it all together – we've never had a smooth qualifying before. I think we made our lives a bit difficult in the first couple of weekends. We've started two times from the pit-lane and we've had to fight quite a lot in the races.”