Practice One - Sutil sets the early pace in Bahrain 12 Mar 2010
Force Indias Adrian Sutil caused something of a surprise here at Bahrains Sakhir circuit on Friday morning, when the 2010 Formula One season finally kicked off properly with the first practice session of the year.
After the McLarens had set the early pace Ferraris Fernando Alonso redefined it with 1m 56.909s until the young German took his car round in 1m 56.583s. This was a fine effort, and remained fastest as everybody else focused on other issues having had brief goes at setting fast times.
Alonso later improved to 1m 56.766s, while the other main surprise was Robert Kubicas third-fastest time of 1m 57.041s for Renault which dislodged Felipe Massa, who earlier had lapped the other Ferrari in 1m 57.055s.
Jenson Button was the faster McLaren in 1m 57.068s with team mate Lewis Hamilton next up on 1m 57.163s. They were the first ones to find speed, before switching working strategies.
Vitantonio Liuzzi was close to Sutil when 1m 57s laps were the ante, and was seventh overall on 1m 57.194s before working in other directions, and his Force India headed Nico Rosberg in the faster of the two Mercedes on 1m 57.199s. On his return to active duty Michael Schumacher was 10th, on 1m 57.662s and was the only driver to run off track.
Mark Webber equalled Sutils fastest first sector time towards the end but lost the lap to traffic and settled for 1m 57.255s, which left him ninth.
Jaime Alguersuari was 11th on 1m 57.722s in the lead Toro Rosso, heading Nico Hulkenberg who was Williams (and Cosworths) fastest runner with 1m 57.894s for 12th. Sebastian Vettel never really went for a quick time and was 13th on 1m 57.943s in his Red Bull, with Sebastien Buemi 14th in the other Toro Rosso on 1m 58.399s.
Rubens Barrichello was 15th for Williams on 1m 58.782s, ahead of Vitaly Petrov on 1m 58.880s in the second Renault. The session was a disappointment for BMW Sauber with Pedro de la Rosa 17th on 2m 00.250s, as Kamui Kobayashi lapped his C29 in 2m 01.388s.
Then came the big jump to the new teams, where Timo Glock jumped ahead of the two Lotuses late in the session with 2m 03.680s for Virgin Racing. That left Heikki Kovalainen 20th on 2m 03.848s ahead of team mate Jarno Trulli, who had been the first runner on track, on 2m 03.970s. Glocks team mate Lucas di Grassi ran two installation laps and did not set a time, while there was a cheer when Bruno Senna managed three laps as the HRT sprang to life late in the morning.
The Brazilian did not, however, record a time. Team mate Karun Chandhok did not get out as his car was still being worked on after consuming its hydraulic system at 4am. The fact that the team managed a few laps was a great tribute to their determination and endless work.
So, the season is finally underway, but dont read too much into the order just yet.