Raikkonen sets the pace on Bahrain GP Friday

Raikkonen sets the pace on Bahrain GP Friday

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen proved unbeatable on Friday at the Bahrain Grand Prix with the fastest time in the afternoon practice. The Finn's 1:33.527 was four tenths slower than his own best of the morning, while teammate Felipe Massa was fourth ...

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen proved unbeatable on Friday at the Bahrain Grand Prix with the fastest time in the afternoon practice. The Finn's 1:33.527 was four tenths slower than his own best of the morning, while teammate Felipe Massa was fourth overall. He was two and a half tenths off Raikkonen and less than second covered the top 10.

Kimi Raikkonen.
Photo by xpb.cc.

"Today, it was difficult to find the right balance of the car, partly because at this track, the wind makes the car difficult to drive," said Raikkonen. "Towards the end of the second session, we found some good settings and now we must keep on that track to find a bit more speed to keep ahead of the rest. But all in all we can be satisfied with the work we have done today."

Raikkonen may have been fastest but it was a close shave -- Lewis Hamilton was the lead McLaren in second, just over a hundredth of a second down. Fernando Alonso posted the fifth best time only marginally behind Massa, so it seems that the battle between Ferrari and McLaren is not too heavily weighted in Ferrari's favour.

"In the second session we began our fine tuning and completed a couple of long runs," Hamilton commented. "I think I was quicker and more consistent than previously in the long runs which is positive and there is definitely more to come. We now have quite a bit of data to look at but so far so good."

In between the red and silver cars in third was the BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica. The Pole, who was in the spare car this session, was just under two tenths off Hamilton. Evidently BMW has the pace to race near the front, although Nick Heidfeld dropped back a little in seventh, half a second off Raikkonen.

"We used the spare car for the second practice because this morning I faced the same problems as in Malaysia," Kubica explained. "This one is more consistent and so now we have to analyse why this happens. We changed the set-up a bit because the car's handling is still not perfect, but things are not looking bad."

Williams upped its pace slightly from the morning; once again both cars were in the top 10 but a couple of places higher up with Alex Wurz sixth and Nico Rosberg eighth. Red Bull's David Coulthard made a big leap up the times from the first session to finish ninth and teammate Mark Webber was a few places behind in 14th.

Jarno Trulli's Toyota rounded off the top 10 but Ralf Schumacher didn't seem to have such a productive afternoon and was 18th. Honda's woes continued; Rubens Barrichello was an average 11th while Jenson Button suffered what looked distinctly like an engine failure and was at the bottom of the times by the end.

No matter what the programme for the day way, Renault cannot be happy to see both its cars outside the top 10 in both sessions. This time around Heikki Kovalainen posted 12th and Giancarlo Fisichella 15th. Mixed up in those midfielders was the Super Aguri of Anthony Davidson, an improved 13th, while teammate Takuma Sato was 16th.

Heading for the order at the rear of the field, Tonio Liuzzi, who clocked a rather startling eighth in the morning, was 17th, and the second Toro Rosso of Scott Speed was 20th. Adrian Sutil was again the better of the Spykers, 19th, and Christijan Albers was 21st. They had improved though, not too far over two seconds off the pace rather than the four or five seconds of the morning.

Barring any unusual events, it's not too much of a stretch of imagination to think that it will be a fight between Ferrari and McLaren in qualifying on Saturday. However, if BMW keeps up its pace things could be quite interesting. Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, Hamilton, Kubica, Massa, Alonso, Wurz, Heidfeld, Rosberg.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Takuma Sato , Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Anthony Davidson , Fernando Alonso , Alexander Wurz , Christijan Albers , Felipe Massa , Scott Speed , Nico Rosberg , Heikki Kovalainen , Adrian Sutil
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Toro Rosso , Williams