With a time of 1:34.154 on his long runs, Lotus-Renault driver Kimi Raikkonen clocked the fastest time during the two Friday practice sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix on the Sakhir circuit. In order to get a clear track, Raikkonen used his DRS and was able to get round Force India-Mercedes' Adrian Sutil as they headed into the first turn. The Finn's top time was set just prior to the halfway mark.
“It’s nice to be fastest but you never know what the others are doing; we just stick to our programme and don’t take too much notice of what else is happening. I actually made a mistake through the final corners on my fastest lap, so there’s still more time to be found,"said Raikkonen.
The Formula One drivers are already in their fourth grand prix of the new season, and the Lotus driver has been one of the runners vying for qualifying hot laps and podium finishes. Raikkonen is second in the points behind Sebastian Vettel. Not really a surprise as Lotus was doing their homework during the 2013 season and both cars were fast in testing.
Raikkonen added, "It’s tricky to get the setup right here and the wind can make a big difference; it might work for you one way but make things more tricky the other. It wasn’t a bad start today; things aren’t exactly where we want them but we’re reasonably fast, so let’s see what we can do from here.”
However, today the best Romain Grosjean could do was seventh.
Setting the second best lap was Mark Webber who was a mere 0.03 of a second off the pace of Raikkonen and a bit quicker than his Red Bull-Renault teammate Sebastian Vettel. Webber said, “I would have liked to have got some more running in P2, but I still think we learned what we expected today."
Vettel commented: “It’s pretty close. If you look at the opposition then Ferrari and Lotus were strong today and I think it will be close in qualifying."
Fourth was taken by Fernando Alonso but when running a race simulation, the Ferrari driver was definitely the one to watch for in qualifying tomorrow, and of course during the race as the Spaniard would like to take a back-to-back victory.
For now the sure bets may appear to be on the top four today. However the Mercedes team elected to come in early for the standard checks for data. However it appeared they were headed back out but as the minutes ticked off the clock, both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg only did pit stop runs.
"The car had a lot of understeer and the race will be very tough on the rear tyres. The problem is that when you want to save the rear tyres, you try to set up the car with more understeer and that costs you time over one lap. So it's all about finding the right compromise. We've still got some work to do tonight to find a good balance for tomorrow and the race," explained Rosberg.
Force India’s Paul Di Resta was the surprise of the final practice session today as he ended with the fifth best lap time; ahead of Felipe Massa (Ferrari), the aforementioned Grosjean, and Rosberg with the eighth fastest lap.
"As Fridays go it’s been positive and we’ve achieved as much as we could realistically have hoped for. The car is working well and responding as we expected, and we’ve already got a reasonable idea of where we stand," Di Resta said.
Sutil's best landed him ninth as he was just a tad faster than Hamilton. The top ten were separated by 0.822 of a second.