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Page last updated at 12:34 GMT, Saturday, 13 March 2010

Bahrain GP qualifying as it happened


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By Mark Orlovac

1230: There we go then, the first qualifying session of the season is over. Hamilton outpaces Button, Rosberg outpaces Schumacher and Massa outpaces Alonso while Vettel was quicker than the lot of them. Join me tomorrow from around 1040 GMT for the race. Expect fireworks.

McLaren driver Jenson Button: "It was getting better every run but I did struggle with front locking this afternoon. Something felt wrong through qualifying so we are going to have a look at that."

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton: "I was surprised with that result. We don't have the same pace as Red Bull and Ferrari, so I am overwhelmed with fourth and there are a lot of quick guys behind me. It's a great starting point, hopefully we can keep the position tomorrow and maybe even make up another place. It's downforce - we are weak in the middle section where we lose about a second. The guys are working on that back in the factory though."

1223: Williams driver Rubens Barrichello qualified in 11th but he thinks he can challenge Michael Schumacher, who is in seventh. When asked about his position, Barrichello cheekily says: "And I have new tyres."

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali: "First of all we need to be very cautious, but after a difficult winter I want to thank all the guys at home because we have caught up a long way. We are there now and we should be happy, we need to work on the strategy now."

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel: "It is a big surprise, it was clear that there are four teams close to each other. Yesterday was tough and it was another long night, especially for the mechanics, but everybody was keen this morning. I knew we had a great car but you have to get it together. I am very happy to be on pole thanks to the team, it's a nice feeling to be on top."

Ferrari's Felipe Massa: "I think it's very nice to be back racing and being competitive. I am happy to be back after such a difficult time. I was watching on TV but it's much better to be in the car. It's a good start to the season for us especially when you look at last season. All the guys at the factory have had such a tough job but this is payback for them, I am very happy to be here and that we are fighting for the top."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner: "I am feeling great. It is a brilliant result for the whole team. They have worked tirelessly over the winter."

Hispania's Karun Chandhok: "We got out and it was a massive panic. I don't know what lap time I've done, even. We just wanted to check if all the gears went up and down. There are so many things we can improve, I'm not even comfortable in the seat. These are all things we should have done two months ago."

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aforeigner on 606: "They must be very disappointed in the McLaren garage. Disappointed and concerned. They are well off the pace of the front runners!"

1206: What a display from Massa in his first qualifying session since returning to the sport following his accident in Hungary last year.

1203: Vettel clambers out of his car, stands on the front of it and punches both arms in the air. Brilliant performance - and BBC Sport's Andrew Benson has got it right.

1202: Here's the top 10 in full: Vettel, Massa, Alonso, Hamilton, Rosberg, Webber, Schumacher, Button Kubica and Sutil.

1200: Alonso goes through but does not make it, he is third and is out-qualified by Massa. Who would have predicted that?

1200: Vettel top with a 1:54.101.

1159: Sutil goes third with a 1:56.309. Vettel is flying at the moment though.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Bahrain: "Andrew has forgotten to mention that I went for Fernando Alonso on the drive to the circuit."

1157: Only three drivers have posted a lap so far. Expect chaos in the remaining two minutes then.

1155: Alonso is just top with a 1:55.072, team-mate Massa is second after a 1:55.131 but Hamilton is 1.7 seconds off the pace and is third with a 1:56.828.

Hispania driver Bruno Senna: "It was all right, it was very low pressure. You can't expect much performance from us. We had a car that went through some big changes in terms of balance, it was very hard to drive, but we managed to do all the practice sessions and that's a big victory for us."

1150: We are go for Q3, which is a 10-minute shoot-out. Hold on to your hats.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Bahrain: "On the way into the track this morning, Jonathan Legard asked everyone in our car who they thought would be on pole. I said Vettel - which drew a surprised response for Jonathan, who went for Hamilton, if I remember rightly? Am I going to be right? Even if I am, I still tip Alonso for the race."

BBC Radio 5 Live
Sir Frank Williams on BBC Radio 5 live: "It looked like Jenson Button was putting in a bit too much steering - maybe there is an issue with understeer in his McLaren. He has secured 10th spot though. It wasn't Jenson's perfect lap, but that could still come. We will have to wait and see, there are at least six drivers who could do it."

1145: That's it for Q2. At the top end, Vettel is quickest with a 1:53.883. Forming an orderly queue behind him are Alonso (1:54.172), Webber (1:54.318), Massa (1:54.331), Rosberg (1:54.682), Hamilton, Kubica, Sutil, Schumacher and then Button.

1143: Button just, and only just, makes it. He posts a 1:55.168 to go 10th. Relief for the Briton. Out go Barrichello, Liuzzi, Hulkenberg, De La Rosa, Buemi, Kobayashi and Petrov.

1142: Worried faces in the McLaren garage. Button is on his final lap of Q2.

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lordfunkymunky on 606: "I think we may be about to see a McLaren knocked out in Q2... memories of Ferrari last year."

1139: The cars all stream out of the pits. Can Button make Q1?

1137: There is a brief lull as the teams make final adjustments. There is just four minutes left in Q2.

1134: Schumacher ninth after a 1:55.105 - still behind Rosberg who is fifth - and in the drop zone at the moment are Button, Liuzzi, Hulkenberg, De La Rosa, Kobayashi, Petrov, Buemi.

BBC Radio 5 Live
Hispania's Bruno Senna on BBC Radio 5 live: "We didn't have any time to do set up changes - we did one change from practice to qualifying. But with more practice we will get better and I am sure we will be a lot closer to the other new teams."

1131: Vettel sets the fastest time of the weekend so far, a 1:54.035. Alonso is second with a 1:54.265. Webber third. Remember, only 10 drivers go through to Q1.

BBC pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "Vettel was complaining of understeer in the final corners of the first session."

1127: No rest for the wicked. We are off again for the 15-minute Q2.

BBC Radio 5 Live
Sir Jackie Stewart: "The most impressive driver in that session for me was Adrian Sutil, he has done very well to be in third - perhaps McLaren will be a bit disappointed that they are not as competitive as they might have thought, but this is a totally new car for them. Red Bull look very good and neither car did many laps, so they are saving their tyres."

BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle: "What we have learnt is that McLaren do not have great pace."

1120: That's the end of Q1. Kobayashi in the Williams just saves himself with a late charge to go 17th. Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari, Glock, Trulli, Kovalainen, Di Grassi, Senna and Chandhok - who managed seven laps - are the seven drivers sent to the naughty step. At the other end, Alonso set the fastest time, a 1:54.612, with Vettel, Adrian Sutil, Webber, Massa, Hamilton and Rosberg following on. Button was 11th, with Schumacher ninth.

1118: It's a Red Bull one-two. Webber second with a 1:55.298. The bottom seven at the moment are Kamui Kobayashi, Glock, Trulli, Kovalainen, Di Grassi, Senna and Chandhok.

BBC Radio 5 Live
Sir Jackie Stewart on BBC Radio 5 live: "Controlling these cars when they are full of fuel is a bit like handling a pregnant elephant."

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC pit lane reporter Holly Samos on BBC Radio 5 live: "Robert Kubica is complaining to the Renault mechanics about too much understeer in the middle of the corners."

1114: Australian Mark Webber goes third with a 1:55.363. He is then looks to be setting an even quicker time but goes wide at a corner and loses time. Team-mate Vettel is now top thanks to a 1:55.029.

BBC pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "The soft tyre is going to be the one to be on, it looks at least half a second quicker."

1112: Rosberg is third after a 1:55.463 with Alonso fourth.

1110: It's all going bonkers at the top of the leaderboard. Massa is now top with a 1:55.313, Vettel in the Red Bull goes second.

1106: Alonso shaves a whopping five seconds off that time. He posts a 1:55.972. Kubica in Renault is second for the moment with a 1:56.873.

1104: Virgin's Lucas di Grassi is the first man to post a time, and it's a 2:02.131. By comparison, Alonso set a 1:54.099 in third practice.

1100: Green light. The first qualifying session of the new season begins. We have 20 minutes in Q1. Gentlemen, do your stuff...

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20ledge-kb on 606 "Can't see Rosberg out qualifying Schumacher, yes he has done well in practice, he always does, but his form never matches it in qualifying."

1056: There are some great TV shots of an F1 fan wearing an unbelievable Michael Schumacher Hawaiian shirt. I would love to Eddie Jordan wearing one of those bad boys. Love it. Four minutes to go now.

Ferrari on Twitter: "Engines are warming up. Few minutes to the start of quali session. It will be very tight and difficult... "

From anon via text on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide): "I'm gutted. The season has been round the corner for what seems an eternity and now it's here I'm stuck at work with no clue of how things are going to pan out!!! Lewis for champ!!"

From Jens, Camb via text on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide): "What a lovely chap Karun Chandhok is. Says a lot for the team and driver that they can keep their heads."

1047: Williams director of engineering Patrick Head says he does not think his cars are in race-winning shape yet. "The engine is excellent, very reliable," he says. "Cosworth have been working very hard on fuel consumption."

BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle: "The top 10 in qualifying will have to start the race on the same tyres that they set their fastest laps on. That could get very interesting if they lock a wheel, slide the car around and abuse the tyres. This rule change is an interesting development and means we could see the teams employing different strategies during qualifying. You cannot just go for the fastest tyre compound because you have to carry that into the race when the cars will be on maximum fuel loads. Qualifying could be more unpredictable because of the teams' decisions on tyres. In Bahrain, for example, some teams have been half a second a lap quicker on the softer compounds and some are not - so it will mix up the top 10."

1042: Did you know that since the Bahrain Grand Prix started in 2004, every driver that claimed pole after qualifying finished on the podium on race day? Great stat that. Chandhok is on BBC ONE and says that he "hopes not to get in anyone's way, this is just to get a few laps under my belt". It has been a very difficult weekend for the F1 debutant.

1036: While you are waiting for qualifying, have a look at some of our preview material on the website. There's Eddie Jordan's Q&A on the new season and Martin Brundle's analysis of the possible problems between British world champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button at McLaren.

From anon via text on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide): "Mark, if the BBC career doesn't work out you should invent your own vacuum cleaner. I'd definitely buy the OrloVac - it has a much better ring to it than Hoover."

From James, Sydney via text on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide): "I've got to say Alonso looks good, but I'm very impressed with Rosberg. I'm going to predict the Mercedes on pole, though it might be a bit much for some to admit that he could scoop a pole before Michael."

Lotus techical chief Mike Gascoyne on Twitter: "Difficult first session for Jarno. Electrical problem with the power box connector limited him to one run. Need a good performance from both drivers and the whole team to qualify as best new team."

1025: Eddie Jordan has a fetching red shirt on today, David Coulthard a colour-co-ordinated pink. Good planning from the wardrobe department there. Tennis legend Boris Becker is currently on TV as dapper as ever talking about the returning Michael Schumacher, who has come out of retirement after quitting the sport in 2006.

BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle: "We'll lose seven drivers in the first part of qualifying and we should know who those will be in Bahrain. In the past, we've seen some grandees fall out in Q1 but that shouldn't happen this time. Q2 should be super busy. Ringers like Force India and Sauber appear to have a seriously good turn of speed so we might see some shocks. For the first time, Q3 will be run on empty fuel - hurray to that. Before we've seen drivers take pole only to find out later that they're effectively seventh fastest when the fuel loads are taken into account. This season we should see who's fastest when the car is in qualifying trim. Qualifying will be about full speed."

1019: More news on Chandhok. BBC Sport's Andrew Benson reports that the Indian can take part in qualifying. The rules say he can't take part in the race if hasn't driven in practice. Qualifying is counted as practice.

1015: Qualifying takes place at 1100 GMT and with refuelling no longer allowed during the race, the teams have had to ponder plenty of different strategies for the Saturday shoot-out. BBC F1 commentator Jonathan Legard explains all his his blog. He says: "In the recent past, qualifying high up the grid has been a major advantage for drivers - but here in Bahrain qualifying fastest on the lightest fuel may not be the key to success in the race. According to one team's race simulation, the biggest potential gamble for qualifying would be choosing the soft tyre for the final dash for grid positions. That might get you on to pole position, but there is a risk of a sudden performance drop-off during the race."

1010: Right, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie are about to do their thing which can only mean one thing. F1 coverage is about to begin on BBC One. It is also streamed at the top of this page. Air guitars at the ready.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt on Twitter: "There is news bubbling away that Chandhok can still take part in qualifying. So let's see if Hispania can get two cars ready."

Get involved on 606
Arkimsa on 606 "So both Ferrari's were on soft tyres. So perhaps their strategy is to use them for quali and first stint, hopefully open a significant gap, then change to the hard for the final longer stint?"

1000: Welcome back. As well as refuelling with some cereal during the break, I've got myself in the mood for qualifying by listening to RBC Racing Team's rock anthem "Silver Arrows (Racing On)", which is - quiet frankly - awesome. Look it up on the interweb. I guarantee you'll like it. I digress, we've got an hour until qualifying - so let me know who you think will be on pole? Can you see past Alonso? No, me neither. Text on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide), tweet me on Twitter or use 606.

0920: We are going to take a short break before returning at around 1000 GMT for the build-up to qualifying. Does anyone have the pace to topple Alonso? We'll find out shortly when we do it for real. In the meantime, if it's live sport you are after, take a look at Mark Mitchener's superb commentary on England's Test with Bangladesh. See you soon.

Ferrari on Twitter: "Alonso did his run on soft tyres and now the crew is working on his car for a check. Also Felipe did his run on soft but he could not fully exploit it as he was rushing to avoid the chequered flag."

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Redmeanie7 on 606: "Ferrari look great, and Mercedes have improved since last testing. McLaren struggling so far today."

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Bahrain: "That is a sensational lap by Alonso - and it has caused some sharp intakes in breath here in the media centre. And quite possibly along the pit lane as well."

0904: The rest of the top 12 is thus: Kubica, Liuzzi, Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg, Sutil and then Hamilton. Hispania's Bruno Senna was 22nd with the slowest time of 2:04.001 - 9.902 seconds slower than the ominous-looking Ferrari of Alonso.

0900: The flag falls and the session is over. Alonso is top, Rosberg is second with a 1:54.368 - a gap of 0.269. Another impressive performance and it is yet another marker laid down to Schumacher. Webber is third, Schumacher fourth with Vettel, Massa and Button following in behind.

0855: Chandhok's weekend seems to be over as his Hispania is still on the jacks in the garage. Red Bull's Mark Webber goes second with a 1:54.500, Schumacher is third after a 1:54.533.

Mercedes on Twitter: "Both cars in the garage... Michael's heading out again now on the option tyres."

0854: Alonso is on a flier and he takes six tenths of a second off the time set by team-mate Massa. The new quickest mark is 1:54.099. Six minutes left.

0849: BBC pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz has more on the problems at McLaren. He says: "It's a failure of the brake duct on the left front of Hamilton's car. Normally if that was a bit loose the driver would come back and it wouldn't be a session-ending problem, but it sounds like that has worked its way loose and affected the hub."

BBC pit lane reporter Holly Samos: "The concern in the Williams garage has been over Rubens Barrichello and his lack of running yesterday. There were a lot of changes made overnight, the mechanics were working long hours and Rubens seems a lot happier now."

Renault on Twitter: "Robert's reporting quite a lot of bottoming out, easy enough to fix. Soft tyre run next."

BBC pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "Trouble down at McLaren: Lewis Hamilton is out of the rest of the session. That is very, very bad news. It looks like a problem with the left front wheel. The aerodynamicist and engineers have already been taking photos of it, and those images will be sent back to Woking immediately to find a fix in time for qualifying. But Lewis is not going to get any running on low fuel and soft tyres ahead of qualifying."

0842: Schumacher is wheeled back into the pits after setting the fifth fastest time of 1:55.202. Breaking news: McLaren's Lewis Hamilton will miss the rest of third practice - more information to follow.

0838: Thankfully it seems to have all gone quiet on the McLaren aero-gate issue. BBC Sport pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz says that Renault will not be protesting while the chances of a Ferrari protest are "less and less likely as the weekend goes on".

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt on Twitter: "By the way, if Karun Chandhok doesn't take the second Hispania out on track then he won't be able to take part in qualifying."

Virgin Racing on Twitter: "We are going over Timo's car with a fine tooth comb now."

BBC pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "The wheel nut on the Virgin simply wasn't tightened tight enough. The wheel gun the team are using was what they call 'under-torqued' - what that means is it just wasn't doing the nut up tightly enough. They had a look around the other wheels and found they were loose, too."

0832: Ferrari's Felipe Massa goes top with 1:54.761, Nico Rosberg is second after a 1:54.845. Alonso, Vettel, Schumacher and Jenson Button make up the top six.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Bahrain: "I bumped into four-time world champion Alain Prost this morning for a chat about his new role as the first ex-driver to be a race steward under FIA president Jean Todt's new initiative. He described it as a 'good move', and said he was likely to be doing it again later in the season but insisted it was still in the experimental phase." Read more on the story here.

BBC pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "I've ventured my way down to the Virgin garage. The FIA technical delegate is taking a very close look at what happened and is not very happy at all - the mechanics are having a good old poke at Glock's car at the moment. It looks like the wheel nut itself has come off."

0825: A quick reminder of how you can get in touch today. You can text on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide), tweet me on Twitter or use 606. Get involved.

0822: Whoops. Timo Glock nurses his car back to the pits after his front left wheel comes off and rolls off the track. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso goes top with a 1:55.105. Schumacher is third after a 1:55.340.

0819: It is not looking good for Hispania's Karun Chandhok. The Indian driver has not yet driven his car and he has just told BBC Sport's Holly Samos: "We got in the car and everything seemed OK this morning. We were ready to go but it wouldn't go into first gear - once again some problems with the hydraulic system. It's driving us crazy at the moment. The more time the engineers spend talking to me, the less time they have to work, so I'm just letting them get on with it."

0815: We have our first timed lap. Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, him of the Finnish caravan holiday, sets a time of 1:55.178 - which is the quickest time of the weekend so far. Team-mate Mark Webber sets a time of 1:55.825 despite locking up a couple of time. Di Grassi reports that he cannot find seventh gear.

0812: Oh dear. The new Virgin team have had a miserable time in pre-season testing and their problems are continuing. Lucas Di Grassi reports to his garage that there is a problem with the gearbox and the Brazilian immediately comes in.

0808: No flying laps set so far this morning. At the moment the drivers are putting in some installation laps. BBC commentator David Croft had breakfast with Force India reserve driver Paul Di Resta this morning and he has confidently stated that the Scottish driver, cousin of IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, will be given some wheel time in this season's Friday practice sessions, starting with Australia on 26 March.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Bahrain: "We're edging closer to the scrap for the first honours of 2010 - pole position in Bahrain. Keep an eye out for the drivers setting some hot laps in third and final practice. Ferrari say that neither Fernando Alonso or Felipe Massa did any qualifying simulation on Friday but both will be keen to get an idea of their true pace on the desert circuit. Michael Schumacher reckons he is still a little rusty when he comes to finding his maximum performance over one lap and was miffed to be out-performed by his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in both early practice sessions. The seven-time champion will certainly be putting the pedal to the metal. McLaren's controversial 'F-duct' ventilation system is supposed to help them eke out pace on the straights so both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button could be in the mix for top times. We shall see."

Force India on Twitter: "Only a couple of runs for Adrian this am - track conditions not ideal and the old F1 cars have dropped oil over the track as well... Same programme for Tonio too, track is also so long that one run seems to takes an eternity! Baseline then some tyre work too."

0800: We have a green light and it is the Force India pairing of Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi who are first out onto the track.

0757: Our red button coverage of third practice has just started, and it is being streamed at the top of this page. Jake Humphrey and the boys return to BBC ONE at 1010 GMT with coverage of qualifying also on BBC Radio 5 live.

0754: Here's a quick recap of what happened on Friday, Force India's Adrian Sutil set the fastest time in the first practice session, followed by Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari and Renault's Robert Kubica. The second session saw Rosberg lead McLaren's 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton, with Schumacher third and Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button fourth. Remember, not too much can be read into the times as we do not know how much fuel the cars have on board.

Ferrari on Twitter: "After a long night of work in the garage, everything is ready for P3. It will be a very important session."

0746: So then, we have third practice at 0800 GMT and qualifying coming up at 1100 GMT and as Danny Dyer would say, I'm predicting a right naughty little rumble. Can Mercedes and McLaren continue where they left off on Friday, will Ferrari flex their muscles, have Red Bull sorted out their gearbox problem and will Karun Chandhok get his Hispania out of the garage? These questions, and more, will be answered in the next five hours or so.

Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen on Twitter: "Everything ready for third practice. Gonna check my weight with my race kit on before the session to make sure we are in quali trim!!"

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Bahrain: "Good morning from Sakhir, where at 0800 this morning, it was already heating up nicely - in both senses of the phrase. The temperature is already more than 30C, and this afternoon in qualifying, we will get the first chance to really see how the new cars compare, and the teams will be preparing for that during this morning's first practice. Should be pretty tasty."

0739: Morning all. I knew you would be back. Schumi wasn't best pleased yesterday after Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg outpaced him in both of the sessions by nearly 0.5 seconds. "That is a bit too much for my standards," he said on Friday afternoon. "I certainly feel a little bit rusty, certainly on the one-lap issue I can do better. On long runs and consistent runs things are pretty good, I'm quite happy. I will just use the rest of the weekend in order to tweak out the little bits." I wonder how much sleep he got last night.

0735: "I've got to raise my game a bit and I'm sure I'm able to." They were not the words of Tiger Woods during another confession, but of seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher after Friday's two practice sessions. Nico… you have been warned.

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see also
Vettel stuns Ferrari to grab pole
13 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying result
18 Feb 10 |  Results
Bahrain Grand Prix practice results
13 Mar 10 |  Results
Bahrain Grand Prix Saturday photos
13 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Prost backs race stewards' move
13 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Schumacher keen to 'raise game'
12 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Briatore must be punished - Todt
12 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
All-clear for McLaren wing design
12 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Bahrain GP practice as it happened
12 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Winning start is vital - Button
11 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Brawn thrilled by new F1 season
09 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Campos change name to Hispania F1
03 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton to edge Button - Mansell
07 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Indian Chandhok in at Hispania F1
04 Mar 10 |  Formula 1

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