Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen ended day one of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend fastest of all and signal his intent, while beleaguered Mark Webber bounced back from his China crisis to finish second best by the narrowest of margins ahead of his Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel – making it an all Renault powered top three.
The Iceman kept cool in the 34 degrees heat to record a best lap of 1:34.154 around the Sakhir desert circuit on the medium tyres. Raikkonen was also impressive on longer runs using both the Pirelli medium and hard compound options on offer.
Webber in turn was fastest on the harder compound, but truth is no one but the team knew the fuel levels but the signals are clear – Lotus and Red Bull have race winning pace in Bahrain.
Best of the non-Renault powered brigade was Fernando Alonso who was only 0.156 seconds down on the top time, thus throwing his hat into the ring as candidate for the top spot of the podium. Teamate Felipe Massa was sixth on the timing sheets.
Splitting the Maranello cars was Paul di Resta, the Force India driver finding handy pace around Sakhir. Adrian Sutil was not far off, albeit ending the afternoon down in ninth.
Romain Grosjean continues to struggle to match the pace of his more experienced Lotus team mate and ended the day seventh fastest and nearly half a second down on Raikkonen’s top time.
Mercedes admitted that they were struggling to find the sweet spot, with the extreme heat appearing to affect the performance of the W04 more than their rivals. Nico Rosberg was eighth and Lewis Hamilton tenth.
Hamilton’s former teammate Jenson Button ended the day 11th in the McLaren, with Perez 13th.
Free Practice 2 Result, Bahrain International Circuit – Friday, 19 April 2013
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:34.184||0.030||26|
|3||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:34.282||0.128||29|
|5||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:34.543||0.389||35|
|9||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:34.932||0.778||33|
|22||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:37.970||3.816||34|