Formula Middle East Series 2013 Season kicked off with Briton Emil Bernstoff winning Race 1 at the Bahrain International Circuit. Bernstoff, who set the fastest lap of the day with 1:06.557, crossed the line ahead of Malaysian Nabil Jeffri and Bahraini Raed Raffii.
Conditions on the track were a little slippery after a consistent shower throughout the night, bringing the temperatures down, with the track being damp throughout the morning.
For Bernstoff, it was a clean race that he led from pole to flag and despite being off his practice and qualifying pace. After the race, Bernstoff said, “It was great. I had a good start, I made a small mistake in the first lap but the rest of the time I really didn’t have much behind me so it was a good win. The track was kind of slippery for the race, which was the reason why I had a little moment. We were about half a second slower, the track didn’t get better from this morning. I hear it doesn’t rain very often but then again you never know” he ended.
Jeffri enjoyed the circuit and was quite pleased with second, “It’s not bad. I was not quite on the pace, we will have a look at the data after this for the next race on where to improve. Emil is a good driver so its good to have a comparison to him. I’m going to learn as much as possible after this and hopefully do it much faster than him. It’s a little slippery earlier but its getting better and better, hopefully its going to rain after this as I am a lot better in the rain.”
Third placed driver, Raffii was happy that he was able to climb on the podium. He was also presented with the Regional Driver Winner trophy today. “It was a good start in the beginning but maybe not as good as Emil. I was just trying to put pressure on Nabil in the beginning but it was too difficult, he was quicker on the pace. I was just trying to keep as close to my qualifying time, try to get as quick as possible try to get away from the guys in the back and try to get the car in one piece in third. I was just doing what I did the past few days but the track is a bit cold so it took a few laps to get it back up to temperature to get the proper grip. The first few laps the guys pulled away so I just tried to get the tyres up to temperature to try and catch them but you know there was not enough speed in myself so I will need to see what I am doing wrong and improve my pace to try and get a better position in the next race,” ended Raffii.
As for the three new drivers, Abdulla Al Thawadi, Adeeb Kuzbar and Ali Al Khalifa, they impressed everyone with their consistent pace. Al Thawadi was also dicing with the mid pack, overtaking Malaysian Ashraff Dewal midway through the race before Dewal reclaimed fifth on the next lap.
Coming in sixth, Al Thawadi was all smiles and said of his experience, “It was really fun, our first race in the Formula Middle East. It was a really good start, along the race I moved up into sixth and we overtook the guy in sixth place. It was really good in the beginning. Its all about the strategy and we will need to put in another strategy for the next race and hopefully we can finish in the top four.”
For Kuzbar, it was a good experience and is looking forward to the next race, “It was interesting, I had a good start. I wasn’t expecting it to be this hard, this competitive but it was nice, I managed to get to some drivers at the end but I had some problems with the car, I hope they can fix it. In the first corner I was right in the middle there was a lot of traffic but we managed. I had a lot of fun and a lot of experience but I hope to get better results,” ended Kuzbar.
17 year old Al Khalifa said of his first formula car race, “The first race was good, I learnt a lot about the start and the first corners, not to crash but I made a small mistake I locked up and went wide but other than that, it was a very good session. My times were ok, it was good and my times were consistent and that is the most important thing.”
The Formula Middle East is an exciting new initiative by the Home of Motorsport in the Middle East, the Bahrain International Circuit and Asia’s most established motorsport promoter Motorsport Asia. The Series features a comprehensive training and intensive support program for drivers under the unrivalled expertise of Eurointernational, the most successful Team in the history of Formula BMW and JKRAS.
words & pix: Motorsport Asia