Raikkonen on top on day 1 in Bahrain, but Alonso and Bulls in the mix
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By:   |  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.

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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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.


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..!


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.


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?


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.


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 🙂

Tornillo Amarillo

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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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!


Anyone except Rubens in the other car…


what has diresta done to deserve a mclaren seat


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

Alonso vs Raikkonen vs Vettel for the race win.


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?


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.


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.


Reckon you’re right on both counts


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.



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!


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.

VP of Common Sense

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?


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


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.


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.


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


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.


So deep…….

VP of Common Sense

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.


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.


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.

Mike from Colombia

Dreadful tyre situation. Roll on 2013.

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


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


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..


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.


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, fingers crossed for KK 🙂


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


Well yea, seems that way.

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