Hamilton just ahead in final practice 14 Apr 2007
Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen both know they have a fight on their hands for the Bahrain Grand Prix, after trading fastest times in the final practice session here on Saturday morning.
Each took turns setting the pace, first on Bridgestones harder compound, then on the softer. In the end the Finn appeared to have won the battle with a lap of 1m 32.549s, which displaced not only Hamilton but the upstart BMW Saubers of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica which had jumped into the two lead slots. But then Hamilton responded with 1m 32.543s, to beat them and to pip Raikkonen by 0.006s.
Behind them, Heidfelds 1m 33.652s stood up for third best ahead of Kubicas 1m 32.755s. But then came interloper Anthony Davidson on 1m 32.900s for Super Aguri, and Ferraris Felipe Massa, who twice spoiled hot laps after posting a 1m 32.950s.
Clearly the track rubbered up well after yesterdays GP2 practice and qualifying, and while all the quick times came on the soft Bridgestones, some people may have been running with minimal fuel whereas others had a little more, but altogether it was a fascinating morning at Sakhir that throws up more questions than it answers.
Why, for instance, was Fernando Alonso only seventh, on 1m 33.398s, a thousandth ahead of Mark Webbers Red Bull?
Right at the end the Renaults jumped up from the bottom of the timesheets to ninth and 10th, Giancarlo Fisichella lapping his R27 in 1m 33.602s, and Heikki Kovalainen his in 1m 33.605s. That displaced the Williams duo which featured strongly all session; Nico Rosberg ended up 11th on 1m 33.614s, Alex Wurz 12th on 1m 33.658s.
Tonio Liuzzi got his Toro Rosso fired up at the end for 1m 33.700s, which beat Jarno Trullis Toyota time of 1m 33.724s, then came David Coulthard who worked down to 1m 33.826s before creeping back to the pits at the end of the session with a mechanical problem.
Jenson Button was only 16th in the faster Honda, on 1m 34.023s, then came Takuma Sato on 1m 34.082s in the Super Aguri, Rubens Barrichello on 1m 34.397s in the second Honda and Scott Speed on 1m 34.791s for Toro Rosso. The American was another to stop with mechanical ills.
Ralf Schumacher again failed to get his Toyota going, lapping 20th quickest in 1m 35.144s, while Christijan Albers was the faster Spyker driver on 1m 35.395s compared to Adrian Sutils 1m 35.436s.
Qualifying is going to be very intense.