Sutil leads Bahrain Friday practice 1

Adrian Sutil in FP1 this morning

Adrian Sutil in FP1 this morning

The first practice session of the year got underway today in Sakhir, Bahrain, with Adrian Sutil topping the timesheets, with Felipe Massa also showing impressive consistency throughout.

Ferrari and McLaren also lead at certain points, but Sutil managed the two fastest laps of the session to take the top spot. The strange thing, to many people today, was that the times were much slower than last year. Adrian’s fastest lap was a 1.56.583. Compare this to Jarno Trulli’s pole position lap of 1.33.431, and you can see how much fuel they were carrying. However, you must also bring into the equation the extended circuit length, which may make up for a lot of this extra time.

As I said earlier, Felipe Massa in the Ferrari showed the most promise this morning. 10 of his 19 laps were within 1% of his fastest lap, which was a 1.57.055. He finished 4 tenths off Sutil’s time.

The most worrying aspect of today, however, is the complete lack of pace, or none at all, shown by the three new teams. Virgin only set a time for Timo Glock, who only got 8 laps in, with a best time of 2.03.680. Lucas di Grassi only did an in and an out lap, which means he didn’t set a time. Lotus were slightly slower than Glock,¬† but more consistent, with Kovalainen and Trulli setting 21 and 15 laps respectively.

Then we get to HRT, who set no laps at all. Bruno Senna went out for 3 laps, but didn’t set a time. Worse still, the car was reported to be all over the place to drive, with extreme handling problems. More on this soon.

Adrian Sutil was very happy with his pace this morning, saying:

"It's time to race now after so long out of the car. This morning we
 were checking all the systems and setup we learnt over testing but 
nobody really knew where we were going to be.

It's our goal to get two cars through to Q3 for this weekend and 
I think we now have a very good baseline with the car and good downforce 
compared to last year.

We can be a top ten runner with this car this year and myself and Tonio 
are working well together. If we can qualify in the top ten now, it can 
lead to decent points which is, at the end of the day, what we want to 
do consistently this season. I would say it's a promising start to get 
there, for sure."

An analysis piece on both practice sessions should be up by tonight.

Times from Friday practice 1:

Position Driver Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1.56.583 18
2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1.56.766 0.183 18
3 Robert Kubica Renault 1.57.041 0.458 19
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1.57.055 0.472 19
5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1.57.068 0.485 19
6 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1.57.163 0.58 19
7 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1.57.194 0.611 19
8 Nico Rosberg Williams-Cosworth 1.57.199 0.616 15
9 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1.57.255 0.672 17
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1.57.662 1.079 16
11 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.57.722 1.139 18
12 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1.57.894 1.311 20
13 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1.57.943 1.36 17
14 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.58.399 1.816 13
15 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1.58.782 2.199 11
16 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1.58.880 2.297 13
17 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 2.00.250 3.667 18
18 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 2.01.388 4.805 11
19 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2.03.680 7.097 8
20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 2.03.848 7.265 21
21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 2.03.970 7.387 15
22 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth N/A N/A 2
23 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth N/A N/A 3
24 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth N/A N/A 0

Pictures will be added when possible.

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