Tous Avec Jules #17
Sochi 2014
Russian Grand Prix
Raikkonen on top on day 1 in Bahrain, but Alonso and Bulls in the mix
Scuderia Ferrari
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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  19 Apr 2013   |  2:30 pm GMT  |  85 comments

Kimi Raikkonen continued his strong start to the season and highlighted Lotus’ position as front runners for this weekend by topping the time sheets in Friday’s Free Practice, ahead of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.

It looks like being an extremely competitive weekend between the Lotus, Ferrari and Red Bull teams, while Mercedes look to be struggling with tyre management.

With much of the afternoon being spent on longer runs and race simulations, the front-runners took their only medium tyre run in the opening half an hour of the afternoon. And it was Raikkonen who found the largest improvement switching from the hard compound. His long run on the medium was not only impressive in terms of speed but he was asked to keep going by his engineer, to see how far they could go on the tyre. He managed a 14 lap stint on the tyre with consistent lap times. This could prove decisive on Sunday afternoon.

The Red Bull duo each found around half a second in the switch from hard to medium, and Fernando Alonso in fourth found even less. Although, there was likely a change in fuel loads between the stints for both Lotus drivers as Romain Grosjean also improved by over 1.5 seconds.

Late in the session Raikkonen reverted back to the medium tyre, testing how far they could go in a race simulation. During the ten lap stint he showed very good consistency and gives the Enstone team a good indicator of how the first stint on Sunday should pan out.

Before the move to the medium tyres Alonso had been the pacesetter and set a very impressive pace on the hard tyre. His option tyre lap was ruined by traffic and he ended the day in fourth place.

However he had very strong long run pace on both the medium and hard tyres and looks like a real contender for the race.

Qualifying will be important, as Raikkonen outqualified him in China but Alonso was able to get ahead after a poor start for the Lotus driver.

He and team mate Massa worked systematically together, the only top team to get long run data from both tyres at the same time as Alonso and Massa back-to back tested the tyres in the second half of the session, both trying both tyres.

Sandwiched between the Ferrari pairing in 5th place was Paul Di Resta, who had another strong day behind the wheel of the Force India, finishing in the same position in both sessions. He ended the day 4/10ths from Raikkonen and the same margin ahead of team mate, Adrian Sutil.

Felipe Massa, after topping FP1, could not replicate his pace and seemed a few tenths off Alonso in both tyre conditions. He ended the day in sixth in a very close top ten. They were all covered by 8/10ths of a second.

Closing out the top ten were Romain Grosjean, Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil and Lewis Hamilton.

Grosjean is still struggling to match the pace of his team mate after receiving a new chassis for this Grand Prix, but he was less than a tenth of a second from fifth place.

For Mercedes, their expected struggles were proven when they were unable to make effective use of the option tyre. Last weeks pole position will seem a distant memory at present and this weekend could be a case of minimising their point loss to the teams ahead.

Similarly McLaren who once again struggled with their one lap pace. Jenson Button and Sergio Perez ended the day in eleventh and thirteenth place respectively and they will both be in a scrap for the top ten shoot out tomorrow.

Marussia’s Jules Bianchi was forced to sit out FP1 as development driver Rodolfo Gonzalez got a chance to get a run in the car. He ended FP2 behind team mate Max Chilton as he got back up to speed.

BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX, Free Practice 2
1. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m34.154s 31
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m34.184s + 0.030s 26
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m34.282s + 0.128s 29
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m34.310s + 0.156s 28
5. Paul di Resta Force India 1m34.543s + 0.389s 35
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m34.552s + 0.398s 34
7. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m34.631s + 0.477s 33
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m34.666s + 0.512s 37
9. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m34.932s + 0.778s 33
10. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m34.976s + 0.822s 29
11. Jenson Button McLaren 1m35.356s + 1.202s 32
12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m35.506s + 1.352s 36
13. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m35.5$9s + 1.435s 36
14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m35.761s + 1.607s 33
15. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m36.133s + 1.979s 36
16. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m36.279s + 2.125s 33
17. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m36.579s + 2.425s 28
18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m36.616s + 2.462s 34
19. Charles Pic Caterham 1m37.061s + 2.907s 32
20. Max Chilton Marussia 1m37.313s + 3.159s 33
21. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m37.363s + 3.209s 29
22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m37.970s + 3.816s 34

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85 Comments
  1. Michael S says:

    Very excited for Kimi’s chances. My fear is that he gets stuck behind a Mercedes or a car that is likely to be off the race pace. The Ferrari’s are so so fast off the line they typically make up 2 or 3 places at the start.

    If Kimi can qualy in the top 5 I like his chances for a win. He is so kind to his rear tires compared to others and the rears are dying around here fast.

  2. Brad Withyman says:

    Overtaking here on Sunday is going to be ” hairy” with so much rubber scattered either side of the racing line. Another disadvantage for attacking drivers. These tyres are proving to be bad for racing as GP rolls by.

    1. Martin says:

      Compared to China, Bahrain doesn’t have quite as many high load fast corners, which tend to be the cause of the marbles. Where they land varies, but most tend to come off at high wheel speeds. Which is usually on a straight or fast corners. Marbles on a straight are less of a problem for passing.

      How difficult passing is will depend on relative tyre performance and DRS and whether the fastest race cars start at the front of the grid. If the latter occurs, there won’t be much need for passing.

  3. Cakes says:

    Ferrari looks the fastest on outright pace as it did look in Australia (even if Alonso does not agree with me).

    Kimi looks quick and his tyre management skills may well be what keeps him in the hunt.

    Dont rule Vettel out though. I am going for a Alonso, Kimi and Vettel podium but not in that order.

    1. KRB says:

      For sure Ferrari is the fastest. Dunno what Alonso is thinking saying they’re not.

      I think your podium (in the order you listed) is the correct one, assuming normal races for all. Massa might push Vettel off the podium.

      1. Dave C says:

        Massa’s race consistency is questionable, 1 lap pace is there though, I wouldn’t count out the Mercedes yet, their FRIC suspension gave them a car to beat Massa and Kimi, also Vettel at China even though the track and strategy helped.

    2. krischar says:

      Tyre management skills of kimi ?

      Funny

      Lotus have a very strong car and better pace / tyre wear than Ferrari

      What makes you to confirm Ferrari have the fastest car ?

      Lotus RBR and Ferrari have won one race each.

      All winners were quite dominant on their day thus far into the season

      Alonso is right, He called it perfectly RBR and Lotus have some serious pace ONly the tyres and Ferrari’s race start have helped them to win a Gp (Yet i Agree F138 is much better than F2012)

      1. Fan says:

        Alonso always talks down his car. This way when he loses he can say that the other driver had a better car and not have it be a reflection on him as a driver. I find it laughable that he still thinks that RB is the team to beat. Ferrari has a strong car. The finished 10 seconds ahead of the field and he himself admitted that he still had pace in the car. Ferrari would likely be leading the championship had he not DNFed earlier in the season. No doubt Ferrari is the car to beat and if Alonso doesn’t deliver the goods this year I think his standing as a driver will be greatly diminished.

      2. Martin says:

        On one lap pace the Ferrari hasn’t been the fastest car in Alonso’s time except at Monza in 2010 and probably 2012, where Alonso felt he’d be on pole by 0.5 of second.

        One lap pace generally comes from downforce and from what Pirelli has said, Red Bull clearly has the most downforce. Being first at the end of the first lap generally puts you in the game to win the race.

        Tyres that cannot handle the downforce the cars produce bring the Red Bulls back to the field and tyre management becomes an issue. We’ve seen that Raikkonen and Alonso have been better able to look after their tyres than their team mates. When the tyres are strong, car performance dominates and so the gaps between Webber and Vettel, Massa and Alonso and Grosjean and Raikkonen reduce.

        Ferrari have a difficult balancing act with development. If the tyres stay aggressive then improving aerodynamic efficiency – less drag for the same downforce – is probably of more benefit than total downforce. If the tyres become conservative, as they did in the second half of 2012 then the Red Bulls are likely to come to the fore. Alonso is probably fearing the latter scenario when he asks for more one lap pace, which if you follow his comments carefully is what he is really referring to.

        As to Alonso’s standing, most quality commentators are ale to judge the quality of the cars drivers have and take that into account. Just because Hamilton hasn’t finished better than fourth in a season since 2008 doesn’t mean he is a worse driver than he was in 2007.

        May be you’re just trying to be provocative…

      3. Dave C says:

        I completely agree the Ferrari is the best overall car at the moment, fast in quali and lasts a race, fast with both drivers and fast on all tracks so far, they are the 1′s to beat at the moment, Alonso is trying to make himself look better, Hamilton does the same, don’t count out the Mercedes for a podium if some of the front runners run into trouble.

      4. Mohomed says:

        Fan,
        Totally agree. Alonso always likes to play the underdog, and loves being talked about as a magician. Australia & Malaysia had mixed conditions (wet/dry), China was the only fully dry race, Alonso finished 10 seconds clear of the field and was cruising home as demonstrated when his engineer told him to “stop pushing” and Alonso whilst setting the fastest lap at the time on worn medium tyres said “i’m not pushing”. The fastest lap was set by Vettel near the end of the race on brand new softs on very low fuel, so is not representative of the majority of the race. Alonso caught and passed the Mercedes of Hamilton and Vettel with ease on more than one occasion, yet he claims (as usual) that he doesn’t have the fastest car???

        Ferrari’s strengths are its starts (easily the best in F1), and its race pace (arguably the best in F1), its tyre management is probably 2nd best behind Lotus.

        Alonso should be deserved favourite based on current performance, only 9 points from the Championship lead despite a DNF, and if he doesn’t win this year, the pressure will be intense at Ferrari!

        Go Kimi!!!!

    3. Veena says:

      Typical Alonso style, down play the car’s abilities and show as if he is the one, pushing the car where it doesn’t belongs. As we know, the Ferrari is the benchmark now.

      1. Warren Groenewald says:

        Howcome Massa hasnt been on the podium yet then? I agree the car is probably better than he’s making it sound, but I don’t think it’s any better than the Lotus or Red Bull.

    4. AlexD says:

      Kimi and 2 red bulls showed a faster time today, so ferrari is not the fastest. Check lap times. Based on what reliable data you say that ferrari is the fastest?

      1. Multi 21 says:

        You are looking at headline times. Everyone else is talking in terms of long run pace the teams do once they finished the low fuel stint they do first on the fresh tyre.

        Alonso & Kimi were lapping consistently in high 1.38 to low 1.39 second laps. Red Bull didn’t have that consistency.

      2. Steven says:

        Ummm… This is free practice….

      3. Dave C says:

        Based on race pace on different tracks so far, based on consistency, so drivers like Hamilton slower than Rosberg, will that be the case for rest of the week then?

      4. Martin says:

        Hi Alex,
        I think the reliable data is that they are not Alonso fans. Subtleties such as cars with more downforce being faster in qualifying, but wearing out their tyres too quickly might be beyond their ability to rationalise with their preferences. There’s little point getting into a debate on this as practice times don’t count and fuel levels are unknown. Whether Alonso did a better job than his peers in China, or Massa did a worse one, or both, is difficult to judge unless you have access to lots of cars telemetry data and a lot of time. But over time, if you can avoid biases, you start to get an idea of who is good.
        Cheers,
        Martin

      5. AlexD says:

        Even if you ask team bosses or some experts with huge experience and access to data and insights, nobody will be able to tell after the first 3 races who hasthe fastest car. So if this is the case, how on earth a TV viewer will know and claim that ferrari is the best car? I know that practice times do not really tell the story, but I just used this argument to say thT this is an unrealiable as the claim that Alonso has the best car based on nothing really. We had 3 races and 3 winners were very dominant when they won. Red Bull did a 1-2 very easily, so it really tells me that their car is very strong. Also James said many times that Red Bull is probably the fastest and as soon as they will get on top of tyres, they will be hard to beat. I think that nothing is clear yet. Ferrari is good, Lotus is good and Red bull is good. They will all win races, but we will know the best car after the summer break.

      6. Ahmed says:

        AlexD,
        You are obviously not be watching the same races. Ferraris race pace is the best so far this year, do your averages over the 3 races this year. Qualifying is no where near as important as it used to be, so don’t let qualifying results fool you.
        On heavy and medium fuel (ie the majority of the race) Ferrari are clearly the quickest. It’s only tyre management by Lotus that is keeping Kimi close, otherwise this year would have been a Ferrari shut out. Alonso is only 9 points from the lead, and has only finished 2 out of 3 races! Unlike 2012 luck has not been on his side, but pure race pace is a pretty good substitute!!!

      7. AlexD says:

        Majority is the 2 races that Alonso participated? Red bull had a 1-2, so it tells you something about their car. Vettel is leading the table, to again, tells you something. Vettel had 2 pole positions by one sec over the rest. So I just fail to see how ferrari is the best car? A very good car, capable of winning races yes…but the best?

      8. Ahmed says:

        Did u notice that Red Bull had the 1-2 when Alonso was not in the race? Massa obviously can’t set up the car for race pace like Alonso can. Vettel nor anyone else has never had 1 sec gap. I think you should stick to watching NASCAR, plenty of false info there too.

    5. Elie says:

      Well that “takes the cake”- “Ferrari is faster”

      It got beaten by Kimi in Australia- very easily I might add and it was beaten again on Friday at Bahrain and Kimi made a slight mistake in sect 3 of his fastest lap (he has at least another .25 in it)

      I hope this continues and Kimi beats the “faster” Ferrari

      1. Wes Mantooth says:

        Ferrari returned the favor and very easily beat Lotus in China. You are really making some silly assumptions based on free practice.

      2. Elie says:

        It was purely in response to
        “Ferrari looks the fastest on outright pace” a very silly assumption given at the point Lotus was quicker.. Of course basing anything on free practise is folly- as we’ve just seen Merceedes went quickest…but you can only address things as they occur

  4. nns2703 says:

    Di resta did an 11 lap stint on the medium tyre and was running at the same pace of raikonen, but there was no mention of that in ur report James.

    1. James Allen says:

      Di Resta did an 8 lap run in the 1m 40s- 41s

      He later did a nine lap run in 1m 40s. Very good, yes.

  5. La says:

    Lotus should be favorites with Ferrari. Kimi vs Alonso, should be fun to watch. Alonso has a faster car on race pace, Kimi has a faster car in quali pace.

    RBR seems to be at odds with the Pirelli cheese tyres still but depending on what Kimi and Alonso do, Vettel still has a shot.

    Mercedes seems to have started their drop down the grid. They always do that after 3-4-5 races and start fighting Force India/Sauber for the rest of the season.

    Force India looking really strong and Sauber needs Kobayashi. The bag of money they chose above Koba is already costing them more than what it got them (plus the credibility and good will of the fans they lost for this).

    1. Dave C says:

      I don’t think the Lotus is faster than Ferrari in quali and if anything its the lotus that’s more consistent in the races so complete opposite to what you think, yes Redbull are struggling but Vettel will be there somewhere, don’t discount Mercedes their car is alot better than last year, expect them to qualify on the 2nd row or a good lap might even get them a front row spot.

    2. KRB says:

      It doesn’t look good for Mercedes, I agree, but I don’t think this portends for the rest of the year.

      Last year Rosberg finished 5th, while McLaren had a miserable afternoon. Bahrain throws up extreme conditions not seen on most other stops on the F1 calendar.

    3. Steven says:

      Really? One race struggling and it already means that the season is bad? Lol how many races left?

      1. Uh says:

        Nowhere was the word bad mentioned and he said 4-5-6 races which is a fact looking at the last 4 seasons of Merc/Brawn.

        Hamilton fans need to lighten up, not every little word against Merc is an all out attack on Hamilton.

  6. micks@sa says:

    Wow, so I was right. Lotus ans Ferrari won’t struggle in Bahrain due to the harder options. Should be a thrilling race.

    Prediction for pole- Raikkonen, Webber or Alonso, maybe mr. Vettel can too. After Webber gets demoted 3 places, Raikkonen and Alonso might lock-out the front row.

    Race- Raikkonen, Alonso and Webber.

    Cheers!

  7. micks@sa says:

    Wow, so I was right. Lotus and Ferrari won’t struggle in Bahrain due to the harder options. Should be a thrilling race.

    Prediction for pole- Raikkonen, Webber or Alonso, maybe mr. Vettel can too. After Webber gets demoted 3 places, Raikkonen and Alonso might lock-out the front row.

    Race- Raikkonen, Alonso and Webber.

    Cheers!

    1. Tealeaf says:

      Hmmm… Webber ahead of Vettel? Name me a Bahrain race since they’ve been team mates that Webber’s beaten Vettel? Whats going to be different this time? Alonso will probably win due to that ultra consistent car but counting out Seb is a mistake, everyone did that at Bahrain last year and look what happened, but podium is Alonso, Raikkonen, Vettel.

  8. Irish con says:

    Kimi V Alonso V Vettel for the win I think. Only because seb might start on pole and try to control the race. Fernando for me again this week tho as his hard tyre laps were impressive.

    1. Pete_from_Nepal says:

      Totally agree with you. RBR has a nice car for circuits with shorter corners like Bahrain, VET for pole and race. Overtaking is going to be tricking with off-line rubber everywhere, but I think kimi will be second because his long-runs were good and consistent. But it will be tight with him and Alonso. Also, Massa likes this circuit so should be good!

  9. goferet says:

    Ouch, it’s looking pretty hot at the top and with performance between the top 3 teams looking pretty close, something has got to give and in this case that has to be the temperature.

    We all know the Lotus prefers the hot and humid conditions, it remains to be seen if the Red Bull and Ferrari feel the same as the 2013 races so far have been much cooler than normal.

    Anyway it will be interesting to see how it all pans out at the end and yes, I expect to see pretty dehydrated fellas on the podium.

    Force India look like they’re in for a huge haul of points after the recent failures, it appears they will have Mercedes and the Mclarens for company, however, taking the Mercedes drivers statements into account, it’s more of a setup issue than tyre degradation.

    Right, I look forward to see which drivers get caught out in qualifying tomorrow for I understand the winds in Bahrain tend to throw off the unlucky.

    Also with all the winners in Bahrain having come from no less than P4 on the grid, it looks like the rest will be fighting over the leftovers.

  10. Justin Bieber says:

    Looking good for quali/race.

    Sadly, it seems that Mercedes will have a similar season to 2012. Fast as the beginning of the year but unable to really manage its tires during the race.

    1. Grant says:

      Well yea, seems that way.

    2. Steven says:

      Wow!! Its one race,.out doesn’t mean the whole season is going to be bad…smh…

  11. graham says:

    looks like a very easy 1-2 for red bull unfortunatly. Lets see if Alonso can hold off kimi though.

  12. peruvian says:

    Hello James, very interesting article, I am not an expert, but I believe the Ferrari engine has more top end power than the others, I see that they have more top speed yet more aerodynamic charge… also the Renault engine looks like they have more torque down low, and not so much top end, while the Mercedes engine ia average and less thursty….
    Could you possible give us a better inside view of the power of this engines, we fans will enjoy watching a race knowing this piece of information, thanks.

    1. nns2703 says:

      Mercedes is the best engine in the field then comes Ferrari and Renault. But the Renault engine is the most fuel efficient.

  13. sandman says:

    Ferrari & Kimi’ Lotus seem to have equal race pace. But it looks like kimi can do a 2 stopper. Qualifying looks to be the crucial aspect. If Raikkonen gets pole and leads by the first corner it will be quite tough for the others to catch up with him.

  14. CarlH says:

    Gutierrez is going to be out of that seat before long if he doesn’t up his performance.

    I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly, but as soon as I saw him when he was announced at Sauber I got the feeling he wasn’t up to the job. Maybe it’s because he looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

    I hope he improves, but if he doesn’t I hope he isn’t spared purely because of his funding.

    1. Random 79 says:

      +1, fingers crossed for KK :)

  15. jeroen says:

    I think Kimi is starting to become a bit of a problem for Alonso and Vettel. With his tyre management he does not even need pole (providing he sorts out his starts)but he is looking good for that too now! At 6/1 (William Hill) I think I might put a few quid on the Kimster for the tittle..

    1. Chromatic says:

      He certainly looks determined enough to get the job done. When we start to see Kimi and the team have the perfect weekend on a regular basis the odds will get very short.

  16. Hehe says:

    Similar to 2009 (as Brawn GP), 2010, 2011 and 2012 you mean :P

  17. Mike from Colombia says:

    Dreadful tyre situation. Roll on 2013.

    Maybe the FIA will see sense and get rid of this rubbish.

  18. Len says:

    I’m happy Ferrari finally seems to have the best car. I think Alonso has the best chances to win WDC this year. If he doesn’t, he will have no one to blame but himself. Enough is enough. If Alo can’t do it this year, then Ferrari must get someone who can. Vettel will be great.

    1. VP of Common Sense says:

      Yeah I agree. Alonso’s situation is like Hamilton a year ago. McLaren were the best car and Hamilton had only himself to blame. Hamilton didn’t get the job done and McLaren got someone else. Right? LOL. Lots of factors go into winning a WDC. Drivers can’t control reliability or mistakes that pit crews and other drivers make. Alonso is the best driver on the grid, Ferrari have no interest in replacing him. He lost to Vettel by less than 5 points in 2010 and 2012 in machinery that was 3rd best on the grid. He would have beaten Vettel if he had the F138 in either of those years.

      1. Uh says:

        Your post is full of inconsistencies.

        You actually confess that having the fastest car does not mean automatically that you will win it. Vettel had it 2 seasons and he won 3 titles ;)

        Also you forgot to mention 2010 Vettel’s car broke down more than the top 4 combined did together. In 2012 again Vettel had the most reliability issues of the top 5. Vettel is the best driver on the grid, there is a reason why Newey said that Vettel was flattering his cars and why Webber has yet to finish 2nd in the title race.

        Alonso would be beaten easily in the same team by Vettel, which is why Alonso has been blocking a Vettel move to Ferrari for 2 years now.

      2. KRB says:

        Ham had only himself to blame?!?!! I think that Hamilton was the best driver last year, made the fewest mistakes and was very consistent (e.g. made every Q3, the only driver to do that). It was reliability, pit stop errors, garage errors, some horrible luck (broken anti-roll bars, astroturf in the side pods), and getting speared out of races by MAL, GRO, and HUL, that explain how he managed less points in 2012 than 2011, even though the latter was his worst year driving-wise, while the former was his best.

    2. AlexD says:

      So deep…….

    3. brendan says:

      am not a Ferrari fan,but Alonso is a very very good driver,if he has a good car and tyres he can win WDC .he drove the legs off his car last year lost by 3 points.
      so I don’t know were you get this enough is enough from. for the last 3 years redbull had been the best car.
      this year Alonso might be on or even better playing field as vettel.
      Alonso (like lewis) can get that extra speed out of a slower car,
      the best 3 drivers are Alonso,lewis and vettel,
      we are lucky they are all around together.
      I couldn’t say who is the best

      1. Len says:

        It’s been three years. No matter how you spin it, Alonso had a good enough car to fight for the title twice in those two years. Yes, the car WAS good enough, because no driver can “outperform” the car. He lost to Vettel both times. Yes, there were excuses, but I’m getting tired of excuses. This year he has no excuse of having a bad car. This year, Ferrari is one of the best, if not the best. So Alonso MUST win. It’s time for him to win. If he doesn’t, why keep him? I’m starting to think that Alonso@Ferrari combination is cursed. Remember the whole “As long as the car is not red, I wish you all the best” thing? Maybe it’s karma.

  19. Gazz says:

    I would not write off Lewis just yet, 8/10s today could quite easily mean 3 or 4/10s tomorrow. Di Rista look good to overhaul the McLarens who will probably fail to get into Q3. This track is rear tyre limited and today showed that the rears will suffer.

  20. Marcelo Leal says:

    When in last seasons, Mercedes had in three races: two podiums and one pole?
    Ferrari and Lotus have the best cars. Alonso needs to admit this. He was used to critic Vettel, but everytime Vettel had the best car he won the WDC. Let’s see this year without the excuses what Alonso can do.
    Even with the best car, neither Alonso or KR could get pole yet. Alonso said on last race, when his engineer said to not push: “I’m not pushing”! twelve seconds off the field, I don’t remember another race with such a difference! And he could get just third on the grid, and KR second. Hamilton is making the difference at Mercedes, and even with a dog car I expect him there or thereabouts again!

    1. VP of Common Sense says:

      Adrian Newey doesn’t work on Alonso’s Ferrari. If he did, Alonso would say his car is the best. He refuses to do so due to his great respect for Newey. Red Bull have a lot coming down the development road during the season. Declaring your car to be best after 3 GP with 16 GP remaining is foolish. That’s like saying your car is the second best after the Malaysian GP, right Lewis?

      1. Steven says:

        That’s like saying that Mercedez season is going to be all bad because of only one race…

    2. KRB says:

      Well, over 4 races in 2012 … Rosberg’s pole & win in China, and then his 2nd in Monaco. Also had Schumacher’s provisional pole in Monaco too.

  21. cometeF1 says:

    It is nice to see that it is fairly close among 5 teams in this session.

    I would not mind seeing KR getting to the checkered flag first come race day. I imagine it won’t be too easy though.

    The Mercedes seem to lag a bit but they might find the set up they need to crawl back on the leaders tomorrow.

    Ferrari again look mighty strong. Because of their usual good start, I can see FA taking the lead of the race at the first turn, if he qualify in the top three. Of course FM may beat FA in Q3 again and end up leading the race himself.

    Uncertain about the Red Bulls. I get the feeling they will not be with the best this week end. Not far mind you, but not there either. Vettel will probably still wrestle a good finish out of the race.

    DLR seems to go very well here, after last week performance, to see him again with the big boys is impressive. Force India regardless of their financial situation, are truly performing.

    Marc

  22. Dino says:

    I feel sad that Bianchi had to sit out for FP1, I suspect for financial reasons. It Marussia can´t help his only real chance of making progress, they are shooting themselves in the foot.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Reckon you’re right on both counts

  23. Mocho_Pikuain says:

    Looks like Alonso ftw to me. He has the fastest race pace and would have probably set the fastest time with mediums if hadnt found traffic on his way. Could be an “easy” pole-win week-end for him.

  24. Grant H says:

    Hi James, I recall reading your preseason review on the Mercedes car, in this post you mentioned how the design of the cooling intakes were smaller meaning they had a higher level of confidence in cooling efficiency, I’m sure you mentioned how normally the Mercedes engine cars end up having to take off body work around Bahrain losing aerodynamic grip, interesting that the Renault engined cars are quick again, have you noticed the merc engines cars removing bodywork, does this go anyway to explain time differences today?

  25. 180110 says:

    Hamilton vs Raikkonen vs Massa vs Alonso vs Vettel for pole.

    Alonso vs Raikkonen vs Vettel for the race win.

  26. Rob says:

    This is going to be a great test for Mercedes… if they do well here, we are in for a great season – despite the extremely poor quality of the racing.

    Anyway, we can all have a laugh at Perez for some substitute entertainment.

    Button is so lucky that Perez is even worse then him, otherwise, his own poor performance would be the laugh of F1.

    1. brendan says:

      just proves what lewis brought to the team.
      never rated button ,he won the wdc in a car anyone would of won in.
      as for perez I guess he is on a steep learning curve,i would of signed di resta, sayin that force india is doing well,di resta will beat button on sunday.
      button has got his 3% interest on his wages from a certain bank :0) so I guess he is laughing.

      1. tarun says:

        what has diresta done to deserve a mclaren seat

      2. Phil Retsas says:

        Anyone except Rubens in the other car…

      3. Rach says:

        I am no fan of Button and think that the last 3 years clearly showed Hamilton as a class act. However to dismiss Button so hastily is unfair.

        Button is a very good driver he just doesn’t quite have the x factor of a Hamilton, Alonso or Vettel. What Button does have is the sense and foresight of how to manage a situation and gel a team around him. You slate what he did at Brawn but overlook the fact that he beat Barrichello to take that championship. Hamilton will have taken a lot from Button and is probably using similar tactics now at Mercedes.

        Now to return to your theme of Button I don’t particulary get excited about him and I don’t care for the way he has cleverly manipulated situations in his advantage but in the same sentence this is no different to what a Vettel, Alonso or a Senna did or are doing. So my view is I don’t particulary like Button as a driver but in the same sentence I don’t slate him as bad – just not to my taste!

    2. Uh says:

      You should be careful mocking a driver like Button…you know, the guy who beat Hamilton over 3 seasons and made Hamilton leave sulking ;)

      1. KRB says:

        Do they give trophies out triennially now?! Hamilton beat Button two out of three seasons. Button only beat Hamilton in a season where the DWC title fight was over early.

  27. Eduan says:

    Raikkonen and Alonso on the front row for the start. Massa 3rd and Vettel 4th.

  28. ChrisJ says:

    I see Vettel went for the Dame Edna look for the interviews!

  29. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Rosberg seems to have the upper hand in Mercedes during practices, but that is to be seen when that really matters.

    Nothing exciting watching Hamilton running backwards, I think only 1st sector was OK.

    So this weekend I will follow Kimi, I like the way he knows what he’s doing.

    Need to say great for Di Resta so far, but I hope he gets it right in qualy and race day, time is running out for him this year.

  30. Feral says:

    Qualifying is going to be interesting between Alonso, Kimi, both Red bulls, & Massa.
    Who makes the best start could prove to be the winner if they can make a 1sec + gap early.
    Managing the tyres, heat/reliability and pit stops will be the key.

    Alonso/Kimi 1st – Vettle 3rd :)

    Great to see it’s unpredictable at the top :)

  31. Richard says:

    As Manuel once said to Mr Fawlty, “…I know naahhthing…”.

    Herein lies the truth. This is the beauty of this season so far. We are all merely speculators with some opposed or just differing opinions. Makes for a great spectacle a few Sundays of the year. F1 is definitely the winner this year.

  32. JohnBt says:

    Let’s see the leaders change positions and thrill us. No mayhem at the first turn please!

    Kimi and Nando for podium…..who will be turd?

  33. Elie says:

    This should be an Epic race..The margins are virtually not even there and the difference between the compounds is bugger all in some of the lead cars. So strategy may see the lead change a few times during the race-if not during each stints.

    Just do it Kimi..!

    1. Uh says:

      The margins are actually huge in race pace, Ferrari is a second faster than the Lotus, then the RBR is half a second slower than the Lotus.

  34. Paige says:

    All as I expected. The Lotus is perfect for this circuit. This is the best car at the moment, and I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that Raikkonen would have showed it in China if not for circumstances. He will show it this weekend. With the combination of the balance of the car and the ability to manage the tires in the heat, it’s perfectly calibrated to the circuit and the way the race will play out. It will be close between Ferrari and Lotus, and Ferrari has two drivers that have historically been the best at Bahrain. But I get the suspicion that the Lotus will be too good. Raikkonen FTW.

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