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Fernando Alonso Finishes on Top in Final F1 Practice Session

Patrick AllenAnalyst IMarch 13, 2010

SAKIR, BAHRAIN - MARCH 12:  Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari drives during practice for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit on March 12, 2010 in Sakir, Bahrain.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

After few surprises yesterday, the final session of this 2010 season opener was no different. I think the only thing that changed significantly was the pace of Red Bull. I had been worried about last years runners up, and as the session opened today the mechanics were still tinkering with some of the last sessions issues. However, they seemed to pick up some pace and both drivers made it through comfortably.

The first 10 minutes of the session was merely an instillation lap phase. Of course it is completely necessary, but it can be frustrating watching the cars take to the track for one lap before sitting in the garage for a while after.

Nevertheless, in his instillation lap new boy di Grassi found that his Virgin car had gear troubles (and this wouldn’t be the only problem Virgin F1 would suffer this session!).

It wasn’t too long though before we got some times up on the board. After a short five minute wait, Vettel was out and set the first time of 1:55:178.

One of the biggest questions of the day hung over the head of Chandhok in the HRT-Cosworth team. Crucially if he couldn’t complete just three laps of this final session, he would be excluded from qualifying, and ultimately the race! The car was still in bits even at this stage and the team were diagnosing hydraulic problems.

Back on track a few drivers were beginning to re-emerge and set some times. First we saw Webber, who couldn’t quite match his team mate’s time. Next Alonso, who was slowing to find a favourable track position. Finally, there was Schumacher who set his first time of 1:55:340 (P2).

With around 37 minutes left, the Virgin team suffered yet another set back when Glock’s front left tyre flew off on track! The German driver nursed the car home (which brought the wrath of the FIA down upon him!), but thankfully the accident was not down to human error.

The Virgin Wheel gun had not been powerful enough, and this one left tyre had alerted the team to check all their other tyres. Comically or scarily (you decide)….they actually found that non of the wheels on either of their cars had been screwed on tight enough!

At the half way stage the positions were as follows:

Massa (1:54:761), Rosberg, Alonso, Vettel, Schumacher, Webber, Button, Hamilton, de la Rosa, Alguersuari, Buemi, Hulkenberg, Kobayashi, Barrichello, Petrov, Glock.

You may notice a fair few exceptions from this list. Before too long most of the rest of the grid joined the action and began adding their names to the list.

There were clearly still some concerns in the Red Bull garage as Adrian Newey decided to come off the pit wall to inspect the cars. However, the team stated that the cars were simply being polished.

I must make a quick apology at this stage. In predicting my men for pole yesterday I didn’t include Massa. I think I still stand by that prediction, but I should have mentioned the young Brazilian. Massa has done a quick and quite job so far this weekend. Don’t forget this is his return to F1 after a long period of injury. I definitely think this guy will be in the top three qualifiers.

When all drivers had set times the standings were as follows:

Massa, Rosberg, Alonso, Vettel, Schumacher, Button, Sutil, Webber, Hamilton, Kubica, Liuzi, de la Rosa, Alguersuari, Buemi, Hulkenberg, Kobayashi, Barrichello, Petrov, Glock. Trulli, Kovalainen, Senna.

Looking at that list, it is interesting to note that Button was yet again slightly faster than his team mate. I don’t really think we can conclude anything from that just yet, but it is interesting.

Speaking of McLaren, the team suffered a huge set back when with 15 minutes left, Hamilton’s session was over! Car No. 2 suffered from a front left break duct failure and there wasn’t enough time to fix it. This was a real pain for Hamilton as he hadn’t yet run in qualifying set up, with super soft tyres and low fuel.

McLaren’s pain was made worse by the fact that Alonso was out on track lighting up sector times with such a set-up. To my mind, the best driver out there sped round the track to score a 1:54:099. Alonso became the first man to break into the 1:54s and rightly occupied P1.

This triggered the rest of the pack to go out with similar set ups, but non who tried could best Alonso. Button looked good initially, but lost time in the final sector (finishing with a 1:55:00, P4). Schumacher too had a go and came closer than Button with a 1:54:533 (P2). Even Mr Practice himself, Rosberg couldn’t top Alonso’s time. The Mercedes man was super fast in the first two sectors but fell away in the final third.

The only bad news was that with four minutes remaining it was confirmed that Chandhok will not be taking any further part in this race weekend.

That was how it finished really. Alonso the man to beat, Mercedes looking strong, Red Bull improving, and McLaren with a little wobble at the end.

 

Pos No Driver Team Time/Retired Gap Laps

1 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:54.099 14

2 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Benz GP Ltd 1:54.368 0.269 13

3 6 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:54.500 0.401 15

4 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes Benz GP Ltd 1:54.533 0.434 13

5 5 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:54.646 0.547 16

6 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:54.739 0.640 14

7 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:55.000 0.901 14

8 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1:55.331 1.232 15

9 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:55.432 1.333 11

10 10 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:55.461 1.362 13

11 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:55.521 1.422 13

12 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:55.860 1.761 8

13 22 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:56.063 1.964 14

14 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:56.259 2.160 15

15 16 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:56.295 2.196 17

16 17 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:56.504 2.405 16

17 23 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:56.530 2.431 14

18 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:56.811 2.712 16

19 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:59.173 5.074 10

20 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:59.789 5.690 15

21 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 2:01.259 7.160 5

22 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 2:04.001 9.902 11

23 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth No time 2

24 20 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth No time 0

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