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Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 13:52 UK

Rosberg quickest as Alonso shines

BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX
Venue: Sakhir Circuit, Manama Dates: 24-26 April Coverage: Comprehensive live coverage of Friday's practice sessions, Saturday's qualifying sessions and Sunday's race across BBC TV, radio and online. Find complete listings here


Nico Rosberg

Highlights - Rosberg sets pace in Bahrain

By Chris Whyatt

Williams' Nico Rosberg grabbed the fastest time of Friday's intriguing practice sessions but Fernando Alonso was close behind in the Bahrain heat.

The Spaniard left it late but looked impressive with the second quickest lap in his evolving Renault.

Both times came in an absorbing second session after McLaren's Lewis Hamilton had earlier topped a quiet first run.

But Red Bull and Brawn - who have won this season's three races between them - appear to possess the truest speed.

Just over three hundredths of a second separated Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber and Brawn's Jenson Button in the quicker second session, with the three drivers finishing fourth, fifth and sixth respectively in the timesheets.

Brawn have been running with heavier fuel loads in practice so far this season while Red Bull, for whom Vettel and Webber finished a historic one-two in China, have been increasingly impressive.

Though too much significance should not be drawn from practice sessions which represent exactly that - a chance for teams and drivers to push the car as hard as they choose as they get used to a fresh track - indicators for qualifying and race day can emerge.

And it would seem that two-time world champion Alonso is starting to get to grips with the energy storage and power boost system (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) that Renault are persisting with.

606: DEBATE
PhilSlocombe

The Spaniard improved by nearly two seconds from the first to the second practice sessions, finishing just under two tenths of a second behind Rosberg's fastest overall lap of one minute 33.339 seconds.

Little will be read into the time of Rosberg, who has now topped seven of this season's 11 practice sessions so far - but only amassed 3.5 points in the championship.

Hamilton and his McLaren team are likely to be pleased that their car is showing further signs of life as they continue to recover from a disastrous start to the season.

The 24-year-old English driver again ran with an updated diffuser, although not with the new front wing he used in China to finish sixth.

But, as in Shanghai, after finishing quickest in the first session Hamilton was then overshadowed in the second, finishing 11th.

Jarno Trulli, whose Toyota team tested in Bahrain in the winter, came third in the second session as drivers dealt with a track temperature of 50C and a relatively strong wind whipping over the Sakhir circuit.

Turns nine and 10 proved particularly testing - Renault's Nelson Piquet Jr was the most notable victim - with many drivers locking up their steering.

Ferrari - the reigning constructors' champions who also tested at the track in winter - continued their poor start to the season as Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen again failed to post any decent times.

It will be the first time in the Italian team's history to emerge from the opening four races of a season without a point if neither driver can finish in the top eight on Sunday.

Toro Rosso's impressive rookie Sebastien Buemi only managed 15 laps in the first session after his car suffered problems and ground to a halt, but he managed 37 laps in an improved second run.



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see also
Bahrain GP practice as it happened
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
Bahrain F1 doctor was suspended
23 Apr 09 |  Middle East
Alonso maintains title ambitions
22 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Buoyant Vettel eyes more F1 glory
19 Apr 09 |  Formula 1


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