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Page last updated at 12:55 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 13:55 UK

Bahrain GP practice as it happened



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By Caroline Cheese

1352: Many, many thanks for your company today. I'll see you back here tomorrow for third practice and qualifying from 0830 BST. Bye for now.

1349: Nearly time to go, but before I do, a friendly reminder: highlights of today's sessions will be on this website shortly. Inside F1 is on the BBC News channel at 1830 BST, and repeated on the Red Button as well as this website.
F1 on the BBC in 2009

From yorker_129-7 on 606: "I fully expect to see Ferrari breaking their own record of four races without a point this weekend. Both Massa and Raikkonen look a country mile off the pace. They're reduced to having to hope for several retirements or incidents ahead of them I suspect, otherwise they're going to struggle to get into the top 10, never mind the top eight."
Join the debate on 606

1341: No sign of any light relief for Ferrari, with Felipe Massa 16th and Kimi Raikkonen trailing in 18th. The news is not great for McLaren either. Lewis Hamilton, who ran light in the morning session, manages 11th quickest, Heikki Kovalainen is only kept off the bottom by Nick Heidfeld.

1337: Of more relevance to the race, only three one-hundredths of a second spilt the Red Bull pair of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber and Brawn's Jenson Button. It's shaping up to be an absorbing battle between those two teams on Sunday.

1333: If only practice meant points. Nico Rosberg has "won" seven of 11 practice sessions this season, but the Williams driver has only gone on to pick up 3.5 points.

1331: Time's up and the top six are: Rosberg, Alonso, Trulli, Vettel, Webber, Button.

1329: Seconds remaining as Force India's Adrian Sutil appears in seventh, but team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella will finish outside the top 10.

1327: Renault boss Flavio Briatore nods in approval as Fernando Alonso goes up to second with a 1:33.339, going quickest of all in the first and third sections.

1324: To add insult to injury, it emerges that Kimi Raikkonen was fined 4000 euros for speeding in the pit lane this morning. Shame he can't produce that pace on the track.

Anthony Davidson on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra: "Mark Webber has just gone a touch quicker than Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel is ahead of both of them. We don't know the fuel loads but I think the race is going to be between those two teams."

1320:BBC 5 Live Sports Extra analyst Anthony Davidson accuses Nick Heidfeld of "getting lairy" as he chucks his fuel-heavy BMW around the Bahrain track. Heidfeld is down in 18th. Heikki Kovalainen is 19th, Kimi Raikkonen 20th.

1315: Jenson Button has the super-softs on his Brawn and that moves him up to fourth. And Fernando Alonso must have dumped some fuel. The former world champ has popped up in fifth.

1309: Nico Rosberg sticks his Williams in P1 with a 1:33.339, 0.277 quicker than Jarno Trulli in second. The German is a bit of a practice specialist, finishing top in six out of nine practice sessions this season before today.

Renault engineering director Pat Symonds: "This is a very hard circuit on tyres so we've done a lot of high fuel running. We've found the rear tyres are very marginal - they're running pretty hot and giving up quite quickly. We want to see where we're running in the race. Alonso being 20th doesn't surprise us. You'll probably see a big jump-up later on."

From thebutlerdidit on 606: "Are the Brawn GP team conserving the car for a storming qualification run? I think so."
Join the debate on 606

David Croft on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra: "There are rumours that Nelson Piquet has two, maybe three, more races to prove himself. If they replace him, Renault are thought to prefer a French driver - that would put test driver Romain Grosjean into the frame."

1259: Half an hour remaining and Jarno Trulli still leads from Sebastian Vettel and Timo Glock. The Renaults are still propping up the table. Force India's Adrian Sutil showing strongly in fourth.

BBC pit-late reporter Holly Samos: "If you look at the back of Lewis's car, you'll notice the exhausts are slightly different shapes. The reason is for the different cooling requirements for oil and water."

1249: Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel sets his fastest time so far to go second with a 1:33.661.

Force India commercial director Ian Phillips on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra: "When Kers goes wrong, the smell is absolutely obnoxious - as happened to Kimi Raikkonen in Malaysia. It lingered for a long time after Raikkonen's failure in Friday practice."

From hammydigrassi...on 606: "I think McLaren are running heavier now. Looks like Toyota are the team to beat, maybe testing at Bahrain could be a must during the winter."
Join the debate on 606

1244: What's this? Kazuki Nakajima sticks his Williams third, behind the Toyotas. Crikey. The Brawns are next, with Mark Webber sixth.

1243: The camera finds Mark Webber sitting in his Red Bull in the garage. A wisp of what looks like steam rises from his seat. We'll assume that's dry ice keeping the Aussie cool.

From anon via text on 81111: "I can't believe how bad Ferrari are looking right now. The car looks dangerously unacceptable on the track, swerving like that."

1236: As Sebastien Buemi spins off, Lewis Hamilton runs wide. Still a struggle to find the limit, it seems.

1234: The Toyotas are still the only cars into the 1:33s. Fernando Alonso is bringing up the rear in his Renault, as he did for most of the first session. The Ferraris aren't looking too hot either, in 14th (Massa) and 17th (Raikkonen).

Sir Jackie Stewart on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra: "If Donington cannot stage the 2010 British Grand Prix for any reason, be it financial or logistical, the natural suggestion would be to have it at Silverstone. The key thing is to ensure we have a British Grand Prix. It would be stupid of the British government to let us lose our Grand Prix. As many as 50,000 UK jobs could be affected if we lost it - we can't afford to let that happen."
Legal battle threatens British GP

Anthony Davidson on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra: "The drivers are struggling around turn 15 to keep it on the black stuff. What we're seeing are a lot of drivers trying to find the limit, going over it and getting punished big time."

1222: And now Glock's on top, with both Toyotas into the 1:33s. Last year's pole time was 1.33.096 by Robert Kubica.

1220: The dream is over for Force India as Jarno Trulli claims top spot, and Timo Glock follows his Toyota team-mate into second.

1218: As Nelsinho returns to the Renault garage for repairs, the unlikely figure of Giancarlo Fisichella stays top with a time of 1:35.343. Force India have added an interim diffuser to their car this weekend, and it seems to be working some magic.

1214: Looks like Nelson Piquet Jr's come to some sort of grief. The front wing of his Renault is dragging along the track and sparks are flying. Over the Renault radio comes this message: "Nelson, in now, you've got some damage on your front wing, you need to be really careful, we think it's about to come off."

1212: Guess who's top? It's only Giancarlo Fisichella!

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Bahrain: "I've just had a quick look through the lap times for each driver in Friday's first practice session. Lewis Hamilton churned out a series of pretty decent laps on the medium tyres, setting the fastest time of 1:33.647. That time came at the end of a five-lap stint but there is a definite feeling he was running fairly light on fuel - let's see how the world champion goes in the second session. First practice also threw up some question marks over Fernando Alonso. His Renault was some way off the pace of team-mate Nelson Piquet. The Brazilian is running with some updates to his car in Bahrain but that probably won't quite explain the difference as Alonso's car was given significant updates in China last week."

1207: Championship leader Jenson Button is the fastest man so far, and he's putting in another quick one now. Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica - both running with Kers this weekend - are second and third.

Force India commercial director Ian Phillips on Adrian Sutil's Chinese GP crash: "He's forgiven himself. You've got to take a positive out of it. He knows full well he can do it. It was a competent and clever drive - it's just a shame we didn't get the last five laps out of it."

1203: Jarno Trulli puts the first time on the board, clocking in a touch faster than Toyota team-mate Timo Glock.

From Paul, Sheffield, via text on 81111: "Re 1149: 'I tried to discover... a little something to make me faster...'"

1200: We're off, and it's my favourite and yours Timo Glock out on the track.

BBC pit-lane reporter Holly Samos: "BMW may be second and third fastest, but the times were set on super-soft tyres. The team are not where they want to be. The car is too slow. They're working on a new double-decker diffuser solution. They hope to have an interim package in Barcelona, but that's not definite."

1157:BBC pit-lane reporter Holly Samos believes the threat of a sandstorm on race day is dissipating. Disappointing.

Sarah Holt takes shelter in Bahrain
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Bahrain: "Yes, Australia was balmy and Malaysia was steamy but this is how seriously hot Bahrain is - at 11am, the thermometer was up at 32C. As you walk around the circuit the heat hits you from all sides as the sun's heat is reflected back from the concrete walls and beneath your feet. But Bahrain isn't known as the "friendly Grand Prix" for no reason, as the organisers have provided plenty of places to seek shade. Beautiful miniature Bedouin-style tents, furnished with rugs, are dotted throughout the paddock - and even in the TV compound - providing shelter. One never knows when one might faint in the presence of an F1 driver so I've been taking full advantage…"

From Mark in Swindon via text on 81111: "I suspect Heikki is the true indicator of McLaren's pace. Expect Lewis to slip back in this session."

1149: You don't come across too many Erasure fans (see below) these days, do you? McLaren's Lewis Hamilton is hoping to regain, ahem, a little respect this weekend. The world champion set the fastest time in first practice earlier - but he did that in China and went on to qualify in ninth.

ErasureFan via text on 81111: "Ferrari looking better this weekend. McLaren looking quick. Hope to see Jenson win again though. Proudly wearing my Button T-shirt today."

1143: By the way, if you haven't already noticed, we've got "Murray Walker 2.0" this season as the 85-year-old commentating legend provides exclusive content for In his video preview, the great man refuses to tip a winner in Bahrain, having gone out on a limb with Timo Glock in China, and is hoping for a proper race in dry conditions. Nice.
Murray Walker's video preview

From Andy in Tooting, not Bahrain, via text on 81111: "My guess is a combination of Brawn and Red Bull in the top six, with maybe a McLaren or a Williams here or there."

1135: Second practice gets under way at 1200 BST when we should get a better idea of who's right on the money. Meanwhile, F1 bigwig Bernie Ecclestone has been unmasked as Sebastian Vettel's biggest fan. "Bernie has declared himself as Sebastian's unofficial manager," joked Red Bull boss Christian Horner. "I think he's got a lot of affection for him."

1130: Hello again. Refreshed and ready to go again I trust. An early plea: get texting on 81111. The top message at the moment features a rather disturbing tale about a guinea pig. I shall say no more, but it doesn't end well.

0948: Righto. Time for a short tea-break. I'll be back at 1130 BST prompt, with the second practice session starting at 1200 BST.

From fozz999 on 606: "Lewis posted the fastest time in first practice at Shanghai as well, ending up ninth on the grid. Although the gap to the pack is greater this time. Second practice always seems to provide a better indication as to who's on the pace. If Lewis can break in to the top four places on the grid for tomorrow that would be a real achievement. (Alonso will again put an egg-cup of fuel in his car and pit after 10 laps!)"
Join the debate on 606

From cp4cfc on 606: "I think McLaren may have a decent chance of picking up some major points this weekend."
Join the debate on 606

0934: Bit of a freak time set by Lewis Hamilton quite early in the session, the suspicion being he was light on fuel. Both the BMWs of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica were on super-soft tyres for their quick laps.

0932: Your top six after first practice: Hamilton, Heidfeld, Kubica, Rosberg, Button, Kovalainen.

0930: Robert Kubica - who has Kers on his BMW - climbs up to third with a last-gasp effort.

0928: Fernando Alonso climbs off the bottom and up to 18th as Heikki Kovalainen moves up from seventh to fifth. No-one's going to beat that Lewis Hamilton time. I guarantee it.

0924: And Sebastien Buemi's miserable morning comes to an abrupt end as his engine dies altogether and he parks up after exiting turn 12. Things can only get better.

Anon via text on 81111: "Lewis must have had low fuel as he is running slower now. Jason still has better car."

Think 'anon' means Jenson.

0922: Sebastien Buemi has probably got a headache now as well after trundling over the rumble strip in his Toro Rosso.

From Dave, Dagenham, via text on 81111: "If Kimi isn't happy with his car I might be able to get him a £2000 scrappage allowance."
Car scrapping incentive announced

0917: Less than 15 minutes remaining and still no-one has has come close to Lewis Hamilton's 1:33.647. Fernando Alonso still bringing up the rear.

0915: Seb Buemi may well need his home comforts because it's not going all that well on the track. He's told his Toro Rosso team the traction out of the slow speed corners is not good and he's suffering understeer and oversteer (though not at the same time obviously).

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Bahrain: "Did you know that the Bahrain GP is actually Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Buemi's home race? He may be a Swiss national but the 20-year-old lives in the kingdom with his uncle and aunt Humbert and Sylvia Buemi. "Most of the other drivers will be staying in hotels but I'll be at home surrounded by love and support," he says. Ahhh."

0907: "What's up with Jenson?" asks a panicking texter. Trouble with his upshift apparently. Brawn's world championship leader is back out on the track now - and immediately pops up in eighth.

0904: Chinese Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel isn't exactly pulling up trees either. He's only 18th quickest. The German man-of-the-moment has been revealing his superstitions in the lead-up to the race, which include getting into the car on the left side and carrying lucky coins in his boots. Wacky.
F1 Mole blog

0900: With half an hour remaining, Lewis Hamilton - still the only man in the 1:33s - remains top of the pops, ahead of Nico Rosberg and Felipe Massa. Fernando Alonso's Renault is bringing up the rear at the moment. That won't last surely.

BBC pit-lane reporter Holly Samos: "In Shanghai, Lewis used McLaren's new front wing, while Heikki stuck with the old one. Now, they have the new front wing on Heikki's car and the old one on Lewis's. I don't think they've made their mind up which one they prefer."

0849: Here is 'Quick' Nick Heidfeld - and he's already off the track, locking up into turn nine and 10.

0848: World champion Lewis Hamilton takes us into the 33s with a 1:33.647, knocking Nico Rosberg off the top. Sebastien Buemi, Robert Kubica, Nick Heidfeld and Giancarlo Fisichella still yet to enter the fray.

0846: Force India tell Adrian Sutil that the tyres are taking about five laps to reach their best. We've got the same two compounds as in China: medium and super-soft.

0844: World championship leader Jenson Button enters the fray, going ninth quickest with his first flyer.

0840: Nico Rosberg is the first man into the 34s with a 1:34.845. The Williams driver leads the times from Sebastien Bourdais and Nelson Piquet Jr.

From anon via text on 81111: "Re Clive at 0819: Empty grandstands on Friday? In Bahrain? For the locals anyway, their Friday is our Sunday and the call to prayer wins over F1."

0837: Despite that off a few moments ago, Kimi Raikkonen is quickest so far, with six flying laps posted.

0834: Speak of the devil... Kimi Raikkonen makes a slight error at turn two and takes a trip into the gravel. Not a great start to his weekend as he and Ferrari look for their first points of 2009.

0833: So what's up with Ferrari then? "Well, we don't have the speed," says a morose-sounding Kimi Raikkonen. "We're missing downforce so we lose corner speed. I'm sure once we get the new package in Spain we'll be back where we want to be. The car is handling fine."

0830: And it's Bourdais who sticks the day's first hot lap on the board of 1:38.697. The record is 1:30.252, so more of a luke-warm lap really.

0826: Aah, the sweet sound of an engine running... and it's the Toro Rosso of Sebastien Bourdais who brings that spell of track inactivity to an end.

From Ro via text on 81111: "Having spent nine very long stopover hours at Bahrain airport yesterday I can report that F1 fever has well and truly hit that place! Here's hoping for another fantastic race!"

0819: Timo Glock gives the camera a jaunty wave from the Toyota garage. The German will once again be my pick for glory this weekend. He's been in the points in all three races, but third is his highest finish so far.
Profile - Timo Glock

From Clive, Walsall, via text on 81111: "As someone who has been to many many British Grands Prix and a few races in Europe, I am amazed at the fact that the grandstands in Bahrain are empty on a Friday."

0816: Felipe Massa allows himself a yawn as he perches on a stool in the Ferrari garage. I know how you feel, Lil Phil, but I'm boosted by that last text I tell you.

From anon via text on 81111: "Thanks for getting up early for us Caroline, it's appreciated! After breaking my foot yesterday I am looking forward to a whole weekend of Live Text. F1, snooker, football... :)"

0812: Installation laps done and dusted, so we should get some flyers shortly.

Force India's Adrian Sutil: "The new diffuser should help quite a lot. I'm thinking it should be a big gain this weekend. The front and side wings, there are a few changes as well. It's overall grip we're looking for."

Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi: "Everything is fine, running smoothly. The circuit seems quite clean so it won't take long to get up to speed. I'm quite happy with my start to the season, the results are better than expected."

0804: Rumours abound that if Sebastien Bourdais doesn't get more out of his Toro Rosso by Monaco, 5 Live Sports Extra analyst Anthony Davidson could get the drive. "I haven't heard that but you never know," says Davidson. "I'm very keen to get involved in F1 again. It's where you want to be. I think I'm at the right stage of my career to be in it full-time."

0800: Off we go then, Renault's Nelson Piquet Jr and Chinese Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel quickest out of the blocks.

0758: If you're in the UK, you can now press the red button on your telly or watch live streaming on the website. Hurrah. BBC pit-lane reporter Holly Samos reveals the current track temperature is 45C.

0756: Kers is proving a particularly hot potato for Fernando Alonso. Renault's number one refused to confirm or deny whether he would use it in Bahrain. "I will never speak about Kers with the press," said the Spaniard. Mysterious...

0752: You'll probably be wanting a Kers update as well. The McLaren pair and BMW's Nick Heidfeld are the only drivers to have consistently used the power booster. Ferrari and Renault dumped it in Shanghai, but are expected to experiment with it again this weekend. Heidfeld's team-mate Robert Kubica struggled with it in practice in Shanghai, but says he will use it in Bahrain.

0746: The double-decker diffuser continues to be a topic as hot as the Bahrain desert. As I'm sure you're only too aware, Brawn, Toyota and Williams have the double-decker. And since it was ruled legal, McLaren, Renault and now Force India have fitted hastily-constructed interim DDDs. Force India, of course, still looking for their first points in F1.

0742: Ah, it turns out "rising sand" is code for sandstorm. Here's intrepid reporter Sarah Holt with more: "Good morning from Bahrain. The Sakhir circuit is canopied by blue skies and Friday's forecast is predicting temperatures will climb to 38C - which in old money is an impressive 100F. A word of warning, however, there are rumours circulating that a sandstorm could be heading this way on Sunday. It's not unheard of either as Ferrari, BMW Sauber and Toyota's winter testing session here this February was cut short for that very reason. I shall keep you posted."

From Kris in Stratford, via text on 81111: "Well my prediction of a Brawn win last week was wrong! Any news on any teams with updated diffusers?"

0736: The answer is no, it can't rain here. The weather is forecast to be dry and hot all weekend, although I did read one rather worrying prediction of "rising sand" on Sunday - race day. I'm not sure what that means, but it sounds exciting. Should you have experienced rising sand, or have any other matters on your mind, why not drop me a text on 81111? It can't hurt can it?
Bahrain weather forecast

0730: Hello to you. The F1 juggernaut has rolled into Bahrain, 92% of which is covered in sand. It can't rain here can it???

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see also
Rosberg quickest as Alonso shines
24 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Bahrain Grand Prix practice results
20 Apr 09 |  Results
Bahrain Grand Prix practice photos
24 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Raikkonen rues Ferrari slowness
23 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Alonso maintains title ambitions
22 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
F1 on the BBC
01 Dec 11 |  Formula 1

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