Scott Speed’s Bahrain Diary

Scott Speed has driven quite a few laps around the Sakhir circuit, home of the Bahrain Grand Prix. He raced on the track when he was in the GP2 series in 2005. He competed in the 2006 Bahrain race in his Toro Rosso. He tested the new Toro Rosso Formula One car at the track before this season started and he put in two full days of practice and qualifying for the 2007 Bahrain Grand Prix. But Speed’s race this year lasted less than a lap when he was eliminated in an accident.

On the opening day of practice on Friday, Speed completed 56 laps and clocked the 20th fastest time

“The car definitely feels more competitive than it did when I drove it here in the preseason test,” said Speed, “but that’s only to be expected. More importantly, the car feels more competitive than it did last week in Malaysia. That’s great news, as we did not really expect that. Now we will have to see if that stays true for the rest of the weekend. We have made a lot of changes to the car setup since last weekend. We are chipping away and learning more and more about the car, so this has been a useful day.”

In practice on Saturday, Speed turned 12 laps. He ended up 19th in qualifying in the afternoon.

“This afternoon was the first time today I ran the ‘option’ tyre,” he said, referring to the softer of the two Bridgestone compounds the drivers could use in Bahrain, “and it felt quite a bit different. In general, it felt as though the car was more unstable under braking. The car balance was much better than yesterday because the gap to Tonio (Liuzzi) has closed and I am running a similar pace to him, while yesterday he was quite a bit quicker than me. So we have managed to get the balance right, but for whatever reason I was not happy with the rear of the car. This was not what I had expected.”

Speed’s team mate, Tonio Liuzzi, qualified one slot ahead of him. All in all, Speed and his engineers were a bit mystified as to just why the Toro Rosso wasn’t handling properly.

“We are struggling this weekend,” Speed said. “We thought we’d be a lot better, and we are not.”

As for the race on Sunday, Speed said: “We will probably go for an aggressive strategy, and I will hope to pass some cars on the first lap.”

Unfortunately for Speed, he only made it as far as Turn Four on the first lap as he got caught in an accident involving several cars, including Adrian Sutil’s Spyker and Jenson Button’s Honda.

“Suddenly the cars in front stopped," Sutil said, “and I couldn’t avoid them and lost the front wing.”

Sutil, who ran into Speed, was able to get back to the pits for repairs, but Speed’s car stalled and he was done for the day. Button thought he had hit Speed’s car and immediately apologised to Speed. But Sutil’s car was the only one to hit Speed.

“I got a good start,” Button said, “and made up at least three places. Then at Turn Two, Taku (Sato) ran wide, tried to squeeze me, and I had nowhere to go so I had to go on the dirt on the inside. Then in Turn Three, I had Coulthard and someone else fighting around me. Coulthard went wide, then cut back sharp, and again I had nowhere to go. We touched, and that spun me round. Then the anti-stall didn’t cut in. I stalled, and that was the end of my race.”

None of the drivers involved in the accident was hurt. Unfortunately for Toro Rosso, Liuzzi didn’t make it to the finish, either.

“A disappointing Sunday afternoon with neither of our cars finishing,” team principal Franz Tost said. “First came Scott’s crash, and then Tonio had to retire with hydraulic problems. At least now we have a few weeks ahead of us before the next race, so we can use that time to sort out our problems and be better prepared for the race in Barcelona.”

The next Grand Prix will be held on May 13 in Spain.