After waiting many months for the season to start, the 2010 racing year began with a few surprises as Force India's Adrian Sutil led the way as the fastest car in the first practice session Friday for this weekend's Grand Prix of Bahrain at ...
After waiting many months for the season to start, the 2010 racing year began with a few surprises as Force India's Adrian Sutil led the way as the fastest car in the first practice session Friday for this weekend's Grand Prix of Bahrain at Sakir.
The German, in his second year with the team, remained up with the top contenders and made a huge statement for his intentions in the upcoming season.
"This morning we were checking all the systems and set-up we learnt over testing but nobody really knew where we were going to be," said Sutil. "It's our goal to get two cars through to Q3 for this weekend and I think we now have a very good baseline with the car and good downforce compared to last year. We can be a top ten runner with this car this year and myself and Tonio (Liuzzi) are working well together."
Fernando Alonso was the only favorite among the top drivers, and even more of a surprise occurred when Renault's Robert Kubica had the third-best time. Following these two were the main favorites of Felipe Massa, and the two McLaren cars of Lewis Hamilton and the defending world champion, Jenson Button.
While the anticipation of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher were among the top headlines this week, the Mercedes driver could only managed tenth overall in this session, claiming that he had a lot to learn from the car.
As for the new teams coming into Formula One, there were a lot of problems to figure out, and this occurred when Heikki Kovalainen of Lotus complained of a burnt behind, assuming that the high temperatures of this Middle East track could be the cause.
However, the fastest time of the day did not occur during the first session, but later on in the afternoon event when Schumacher's countryman and teammate Nico Rosberg clocked a best of the day time of 1:55:09, considering that other drivers were focusing on heavier fuel loads on further distances.
The top drivers began to improve over the warmer afternoon session, as Hamilton was second best, followed by Schumacher. Button and Sebastian Vettel were fourth and fifth quickest.
One of the main points of this race weekend will be the handling of the Bridgestone rubber on the track, especially on how the wear of the tire will coincide with the heavy fuel loads. Many drivers already have complained of how the rear tire degrades towards the end of a long run. Even Hamilton said that the sets he used earlier were in bad shape.
"I destroyed a set of the harder compounds only after four laps," commented the 2008 world champion. "But I realized that I had used these tires already in this morning's running," Hamilton joked afterwards.
Mark Webber did not have to worry much about his session on tire troubles, as the Aussie stayed with his Red Bull in the garage all afternoon, suffering from gearbox troubles. His teammate, Vettel, complained of oversteer on the final turn of the course.
With still one more practice session remaining on Sautrday, the teams have one more opportunity to improve on their times before qualifying. But the twisty infield of the track could pose a problem for most of the drivers, plus the regular outer part of the circuit is wide open and could cause many drivers to change their setups during the race weekend.