Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen pipped the two Red Bulls in practice for tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix, in a tight session that saw the top ten drivers covered by less than a second.
The ‘Iceman’ lapped the hot, dusty desert circuit in one minute 34.154 seconds, just three-hundredths of a second quicker than Mark Webber’s Red Bull. Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel ended the day third, a tenth of a second down on Raikkonen’s time.
“Like I said earlier it’s not 100 per cent where we want to be. But the lap time seems to be more or less there so we have to improve and for sure we can do better lap times. So it’s a normal Friday,” Raikkonen told journalists after the second session.
Raikkonen and Lotus have been tipped as among the favourites for tomorrow’s race around the desert track, particularly as the team’s E21 car tends to look after its tyres better than its rivals, and Raikkonen’s form yesterday seems to indicate the Lotus will be strong.
Ferrari also seem to be in the mix, with Felipe Massa leading teammate Fernando Alonso in a Ferrari one-two in the first session, before eventually ending the day sixth, two places behind Alonso.
“It was a positive day and we are reasonably pleased with how the car behaved,” Alonso said. “The initial feelings are good and I think we can be up in the leading group tomorrow, a group that is all within the same two, maximum three tenths,” the Spaniard added.
Paul di Resta was a strong fifth in the Force India, which seems to have rediscovered the pace it showed in the heat in Malaysia.
Romain Grosjean was seventh ahead of Nico Rosberg, in the first of the Mercedes, in eighth. Adrian Sutil and Lewis Hamilton, who seemed unable to repeat the pace Mercedes displayed over the last two races, rounded out the top ten.
“We worked as hard as we could today but couldn’t quite get the balance of the car to where it needs to be,” Hamilton said. He continued: “I had some issues in practice; one which we were able to improve for this afternoon so that’s a positive, but we need to identify where we are losing time and find more performance.”
“We’re not as far off as we might look today but there is a lot of hard work ahead and it will be a tough battle for us this weekend.”
British TV crew forced to leave Bahrain before GP
A TV crew from Britain's ITV has been forced to leave Bahrain because they reported on violent demonstrations ahead of the F1 GP there, ITV news reported. A spokeswoman said: “Our news team were on assignment with visas approved by the Bahraini authorities. They were stopped while filming and taken to a local police station. They have since been asked to leave the country which they are doing.” — AFP