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Friday analysis - advantage Ferrari in Bahrain 04 Apr 2008

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 4 April 2008 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 after his big crash.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 4 April 2008 Robert Kubica (PL), BMW Sauber, BMW Sauber F1.08, Bahrain Grand Prix 2008, Free Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Manama, Bahrain, Friday, 4 April 2008. © Martin Trenkler / Reporter Images Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 VJM01 with damaged car after he was hit by Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 4 April 2008 Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams FW30 and Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.08.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 4 April 2008

Ferrari came out on top in both Friday’s practice sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix, and even discounting Felipe Massa’s overall fastest time of 1m 31.420s which was set with a low fuel load on the dusty and slippery track, the red cars appeared to have a four-tenths advantage over their closest challenger, the McLarens, which were chased by BMW Sauber and Williams. We take a team-by-team look at the early progress in Sakhir…

Felipe Massa, 1m 32.233s, P1/1m 31.420s, P1
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 32.350s, P2/1m 32.327s, P2

Massa was happy straight away with his set-up, and really got going in the afternoon as track conditions improved. After his recent ill fortune, he was relieved to be the fastest man all day. Raikkonen did not seem at all put out by his team mate’s speed on his final run, and the two of them exuded an air of quiet confidence.

Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 32.868s, P5/1m 32.752s, P3
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 32.705s, P4/1m 32.847s, P4

McLaren spent a lot of time honing brake performance on a track that is notoriously hard on the stoppers. Kovalainen had a trouble-free day and was third fastest in the afternoon, but Hamilton damaged his MP4-23 after it got away from him over the slippery kerb in the fast chicane. The damage is repairable, and in any case he was due for a change of engine and transmission.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 33.333s, P7/1m 32.915s, P5
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 34.106s, P14/1m 34.023s, P17

Kubica and Heidfeld pursued different programmes in each session. The Pole went for the fast times, especially in the afternoon, and was encouraged to be close to the McLarens again. The German did the race running and reported no technical problems, but was not entirely satisfied with the balance of his F1.08.

Nico Rosberg, 1m 32.415s, P3/1m 33.022s, P6
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 33.121, P6/1m 33.098s, P8

To the relief of everyone in the team, Williams bounced back after their tyre temperature problems in Malaysia. Rosberg was very quick in the morning, and remained in the top six in the afternoon. Nakajima shadowed him closely, and likewise reported no problems.

Red Bull
David Coulthard, 1m 33.788s, P9/1m 33.048s, P7
Mark Webber, 1m 33.950s, P12/1m 33.782s, P13

Coulthard looked strong all day on a circuit he likes, despite being less than fully satisfied with traction and rear-end stability. Webber was happier in the afternoon.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 34.235s, P15/1m 33.197s, P9
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 34.321s, P16/1m 34.787s, P20

Bourdais was pleased to be able to get into the groove in the morning, and to stay there in the afternoon as he made the top 10 on his first acquaintance with the track. Vettel, however, had a tough day. He found his STR2B a handful in the morning, with low levels of grip, and not much better in the afternoon, and faces an evening of data study with his engineers to make significant set-up changes for Saturday morning.

Nelson Piquet, 1m 33.981s, P13/1m 33.247s, P10
Fernando Alonso, 1m 33.815s, P10/1m 33.755s, P12

Piquet felt he had a productive afternoon and was quite optimistic for Saturday, but Alonso struggled for grip all day, and had that unnecessary incident with Adrian Sutil in the first corner right at the end of the second session.

Jenson Button, 1m 34.915s, P18/1m 33.710s, P11
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 35.174s, P19/1m 33.966s, P16

Button felt that Honda made a reasonable start to their weekend, while Barrichello did a lot of brake work. Even so the Brazilian admitted that he lacked confidence in them and was thus losing time during his new-tyre runs.

Jarno Trulli, 1m 33.539s, P8/1m 33.822s, P14
Timo Glock, 1m 33.929s, P11/1m 33.856s, P15

Neither Toyota driver had any real problems, apart from one undisclosed glitch on Glock’s TF108 in the morning.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 34.892s, P17/1m 34.388s, P18
Adrian Sutil, 1m 35.429s, P20/1m 34.405s, P19

Fisichella struggled with understeer and oversteer initially, then lost his chance for a new-tyre run in the late afternoon due to a problem with his Force India’s rear wing. Sutil, too, lost his good run in the afternoon after the incident with Alonso.

Super Aguri
Takuma Sato, 1m 36.536s, P22/1m 35.288s, P21
Anthony Davidson, 1m 36.145s, P21/1m 35.712s, P22

Both Super Aguri drivers reported problems obtaining a decent balance, partly because of the crosswind and partly because of the general lack of grip for most of practice.