Honda third driver Anthony Davidson ended the second Friday practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix at the top of the time sheet with a best of 1:31.353. He outdid the morning's quickest, set by BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica, by eight tenths.
Honda third driver Anthony Davidson ended the second Friday practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix at the top of the time sheet with a best of 1:31.353. He outdid the morning's quickest, set by BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica, by eight tenths. Second fastest in the afternoon was Ferrari's Michael Schumacher and Williams No.3 Alex Wurz was third.
For the start of the second practice the air temperature was about the same as the morning, low thirties, while the track temperature had dropped a few degrees to the high thirties. Once again the third drivers were on track first; Wurz, Davidson, Red Bull's Robert Doornbos and Kubica.
They were followed by Red Bull racer Tonio Liuzzi, the Super Aguri of Yuji Ide and MF1 No.3 Markus Winkelhock. Wurz was quick to set the first time, 1:36.141, but was immediately overtaken by Davidson's 1:35.660. He in turn was just as rapidly ousted by Kubica's 1:35.146.
Takuma Sato's Super Aguri joined the track, as did the MF1 of Tiago Monterio, Toyota's Ralf Schumacher and Toro Rosso's Scott Speed. On the time sheet Kubica improved to 1:34.357, with Wurz, Davidson, Liuzzi, Winkelhock and Ide behind. Liuzzi then improved to second, nine tenths off the lead BMW.
Wurz took the spot off him, just over a tenth down on Kubica, while Monteiro arrived in sixth and Ide eighth. Kubica was still on the gas, his next time a 1:33.938, and Winkelhock clocked fifth on his first flyer. Speed posted sixth and Ralf eighth, while McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, Toyota's Jarno Trulli and MF1's Christijan Albers made an appearance.
Speed moved up to sixth and Trulli clocked fifth on his first timed lap, then Raikkonen took over the top spot with a 1:33.577, three and a half tenths up on Kubica. Albers posted 11th, Toro Rosso No.3 Neel Jani seventh and Doornbos moved into sixth, then up to fourth. Juan Pablo Montoya put his McLaren third on his first timed effort.
After the first 15 minute flurry of activity it quietened down a little. The Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa appeared and lapped in formation to go second and sixth respectively and Davidson was next to the top, 1:32.997 for nearly six tenths up on Raikkonen. There were some minor changes of the order but not much action for a while.
Kubica improved to second, two and a half tenths off Davidson, and Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella got himself onto the time sheet for the first time in fifth, followed by teammate Fernando Alonso into fourth. Fisichella then went up to third and Alonso improved even more to take the top slot, 1:32.538.
Jenson Button was the first Honda driver to make an appearance in a lowly 20th. Wurz took second, two tenths off Alonso, and Red Bull's Christian Klien and BMW Sauber's Nick Hiedfeld took to the track together and clocked ninth and 15th respectively. Button jumped up to fifth and Honda teammate Rubens Barrichello posted 17th on his first effort.
Davidson moved into third after being shuffled down the order, followed by Liuzzi into second, a tenth and a half off Alonso. Barrichello climbed to 14th and Heidfeld to 10th. With 20 minutes to go, Red Bull's David Coulthard ventured out but Raikkonen's McLaren stopped in the first sector, belching smoke. The team said it was an electrical problem.
Shortly afterwards Trulli's Toyota also ground to a halt in the middle sector, he too suffering an issue with the electronics. Doornbos improved to fifth but there was little change in the order until the final 10 minutes. BMW Sauber's Jacques Villenevue put in his first flyer of the day for 25th.
Massa had a good lap with the fastest first sector so far to take to the top of the times three and half tenths up on Alonso, 1:32.175. Davidson followed on with the best times in all three sectors to take over with a 1:31.353, eight tenths up. Not to be outdone by his younger teammate, Michael took second off Massa for four tenths down on Davidson.
Williams finally put in an appearance, rookie Nico Rosberg in 21st and Mark Webber 26th. Klien improved to 11th after being moved down the order and Montoya posted 13th. Ide was third casualty of the session when his Super Aguri stopped in the middle sector in the final minutes. Wurz put in a last gasp flyer that elevated him to third and Webber climbed to 17th.
Third drivers aside -- no offence but they don't have to run as conservatively as the racers do -- Ferrari looked pretty handy with Michael and Massa the fastest of the race drivers. Renault also looked fairly comfortable but Honda and McLaren were not as far up the list as perhaps was anticipated.
"Our focus was on the long runs and we achieved a good result, so coupled with the information we got in testing here a few weeks ago, we have a lot of information to work with this evening," said Davidson. "We achieved a reasonably good balance by the end of the session so generally we've made a good start."
Michael believes some teams have not yet shown their true potential but was happy enough with Ferrari's start. "It's been a fairly positive day for us," he commented. "We've completed the program that we had planned for ourselves and we worked well, so I'm obviously satisfied with the way things went."
Wurz was satisfied with his first trip out as Williams third driver. "We are very happy with the work we achieved because it was what we were aiming to, in terms of tyre choice, mechanical set-up and electronic set-up," he said. "I think we have done quite a good job and the lap times reflect this."
Liuzzi hovered around the top six for most of the session -- is Norbert Haug's prediction of a possible Toro Rosso podium looking more likely? Sister team Red Bull was not too bad, at least as far as Klein and Doornbos were concerned. Coulthard only did a handful of laps and was 19th.
BMW was similarly split with Heidfeld solidly midfield and Villeneuve outside the top 20. Toyota notably did not make much of an impression on the top 10 and nor did Williams, while MF1 did not appear to be particularly improved from last year. Super Aguri, unsurprisingly, was at the bottom of the list.
Ferrari and Renault appear to be the most competitive based on Friday's activities but it's still too early to say for sure. It was a mostly sedate start to the first race weekend of the season but there's time for things to heat up. Final top eight classification: Davidson, M. Schumacher, Wurz, Massa, Alonso, Liuzzi, Doornbos, Fisichella.