As the teams descended on the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain for the first time during the off-season, it was Felipe Massa in the Ferrari who dominated, followed by his team mate Kimi Raikkonen in the sister car. Massa completed 86 laps of the circuit while Kimi managed 41 to finish just 0.2s shy of his Brazilian counterpart. This was no surprise as Ferrari have been generally keeping themselves in the top half of the time sheets all winter, but what did shock a few people was Jenson Button’s inclusion in the top three. The Honda had been woefully down up until this first day in Bahrain, and a lap time of 1m32.087s – just 0.2s down on Kimi’s Ferrari – should certainly be considered as an improvement. Rubens Barrichello in the sister Honda managed just ninth by the end of the day, completing 100 laps.
McLaren showed their form again with Lewis Hamilton and Pedro De La Rosa occupying spots four and five on the timing tables. The Woking-based team used Melbourne spec cars for the first time, and thus were jubilant at their pace – and understandably so. BMW also had a good day, compounding their pace with Sebastian Vettel finishing just 0.02s shy of De La Rosa’s McLaren, although he was hounded by the Toyota of Jarno Trulli, which has shown some improvement over the lack-lustre performance demonstrated so far this winter.
Renault continued their up and down off-season, this time with a down ending the day in twelfth and thirteenth, Heikki Kovalainen getting the better of Nelson Piquet Jr. But again, Renault were not concerned with the apparent lack of pace, as Renault’s chief test engineer Christian Silk explained.
Both drivers completed race simulations without any problems, and began some set-up work, which confirmed our conclusion from recent weeks. It was an encouraging start to the programme, and we hope to continue in the same manner tomorrow. Christian Silk.
Red Bull Racing – like Renault – also continued their inconsistent winter programme and ended the day near the bottom of the time sheets. The pair of drivers only managed 57 laps between them and could only muster a pace that was two seconds shy of Felipe Massa at the top.
1. Massa – Ferrari – 1m31.776s
2. Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1m31.901s
3. Button – Honda – 1m32.097s
4. Hamilton – McLaren – 1m32.194s
5. De La Rosa – McLaren – 1m32.628s
6. Vettel – BMW – 1m32.646s
7. Trulli – Toyota – 1m32.784s
8. Heidfeld – BMW – 1m32.815s
9. Barrichello – Honda – 1m32.920s
10. Davidson – Super Aguri – 1m33.396s
11. Kovalainen – Renault – 1m33.579s
12. Piquet – Jr – Renault – 1m33.807s
13. Webber – Red Bull Racing – 1m34.076s
14. Coulthard – Red Bull Racing – 1m34.594s
15. Schumacher – Toyota – 1m35.254s
16. Liuzzi – Toro Rosso – 1m36.345s