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Friday analysis - Lotus looking hot in the desert 19 Apr 2013

Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Lotus F1 Team Pirelli tyres.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F138.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham CT03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 19 April 2013

Friday’s first free practice sessions in Bahrain were in consistent conditions ambient temperatures ranging between 43 and 45 degrees Celsius in the morning and 39 and 41 in the afternoon. That enabled teams to do their usual set-up and tyre evaluation work, but though Pirelli’s two hardest compounds seem more durable than the choices in China, drivers report that their behaviour is not entirely what they expected. On top of that, setting the cars up to save the vulnerable rear tyres promotes understeer, which in turn hurts lap times. We take a team-by-team look at the early form in Sakhir…

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 35.345s, P9/1m 34.154s, P1
Romain Grosjean, 1m 35.611s, P10/1m 34.631s, P7

Lotus had a standard day which revealed that the E21 worked well on both the hard and medium tyre. Raikkonen was satisfied with a new rear suspension, and the new front wing from China also worked well. Grosjean was happy with his new chassis. Altogether, it’s good news so far here.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 35.101s, P7/1m 34.184s, P2
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 34.790s, P4/1m 34.282s, P3

Both drivers pointed to the pace of Lotus and Ferrari and believe Mercedes will also be there tomorrow. Vettel said he wasn’t so happy yet with his RB9 on short runs, but both drivers feel that the car is quick. It’ll be interesting to see what effect the usual overnight set-up work has.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 34.564s, P2/1m 34.310s, P4
Felipe Massa, 1m 34.487s, P1/ 1m 34.552s, P6

Both drivers were happy with how quickly they could adapt the F138 to the circuit, and Alonso in particular feels that Ferrari will be able to run with the big dogs in qualifying and the race, which bodes well for the Scuderia’s chance of further success.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 34.621s, P3/1m 34.666s, P8
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 35.792s, P13/1m 34.976s, P10

Both Mercedes drivers said that they had not been able to achieve optimal balance on their W04s, and that there was more work to be done on set-up overnight. The knock-on effect was also to compromise their long runs in the afternoon.

Force India
Paul di Resta, 1m 34.949s, P5/1m 34.543s, P5
Adrian Sutil, 1m 35.119s, P8/1m 34.932s, P9

There’s a big air of optimism in this team this weekend, and the drivers’ performance thus far justifies it. Di Resta reported that his VJM06 behaved the way it had been expected to, but Sutil said his car’s balance and feel wasn’t quite right yet.

McLaren
Jenson Button, 1m 35.069s, P6/1m 35.356s, P11
Sergio Perez, 1m 35.640s, P11/1m 35.589s, P13

Button said that neither the hard nor the medium Pirellis behaved the way you’d expect when you were trying to baby them, which was confusing. He in particular was optimistic that he’d found a decent direction to pursue overnight for tomorrow’s final set-up.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 36.104s, P14/1m 35.506s, P12
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 36.485s, P15/1m 35.761s, P14

Vergne is optimistic that the car will behave as well as it did in China, where Ricciardo was seventh. The Australian wasn’t quite so happy with his car, however, and said it needs more work on the set-up.

Sauber
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 36.755s, P17/1m 36.133s, P15
Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 37.214s, P18/1m 36.616s, P18

Sauber continued to struggle. They had issues with traction and grip in slow corners, and Hulkenberg said he wasn’t happy with the balance of his C31.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 36.498s, P16/1m 36.279s, P16
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 35.783s, P12/1m 36.579s, P17

Williams tried tome new aero parts, but the overriding problem was poor performance in low-fuel configuration. The FW35s were better in race trim, however.

Caterham
Charles Pic, 1m 37.850s, P19/1m 37.061s, P19
Giedo van der Garde (pm only), 1m 37.970s, P22
Heikki Kovalainen (am only), 1m 38.401,s P20

There was a lot of optimism in the camp after Kovalainen confirmed certain things about the behaviour of the standard CT03 on his return to cockpit duty, and Pic’s performance underlined the improvement wrought by the partial update brought here in readiness for the big step ahead of Barcelona.

Marussia
Max Chilton, 1m 39.445s, P21/1m 37.313s, P20
Jules Bianchi (pm only), 1m 37.363s, P21
Rodolfo Gonzalez (am only), 1m 40.215s, P22

Gonzalez had a run in place of Bianchi in the morning, but lost time with a gearbox issue. Bianchi got going in the afternoon, but missed equalling an on-form Chilton by hundredths of a second.

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