LIVE COMMENTARY: 2010 BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX - SATURDAY PRACTICE
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As it happened: Saturday Practice
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
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Hello and welcome to AUTOSPORT Live for continuing coverage of the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship.
The rainy pre-season tests have been left behind and the teams have moved quickly to Bahrain for the opening round of a new campaign.
Everyone is looking to start the year on the right foot, but so far only a handful have enjoyed a trouble-free run - a legacy of the limited dry running over the winter.
On track, this year's cars look stunning and, with an increased field, everyone is excited to see who will take the spoils at the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix from the Sakhir International Circuit.
Today, we will guide you through the final practice session with minute-by-minute commentary as the teams and drivers begin their build-up to qualifying.
Third practice will begin shortly, with commentary ending 15 minutes after the session has concluded.
Later, at 10:45 GMT, we will return for live coverage of the all-important qualifying session and the battle for pole position. AUTOSPORT Live will end the day with a detailed Sunday weather forecast, on the Bahrain Grand Prix weather page.
Friday saw the 12 teams take to the Sakhir circuit for three hours of testing in very warm and dusty conditions.
The job list was overflowing with tasks and tests to be carried out, but nothing could hide them from the fact that when the green light shone at pitlane exit, it was time to deliver.
Adrian Sutil stole the show in the morning session, clocking a time of 1m56.583s in the Force India. He led home Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari and Robert Kubica's Renault.
The afternoon session was all about long runs on heavy fuel. Nico Rosberg topped the times in his Mercedes in 1m55.409s from Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel.
Weather conditions are perfect for the second day of action in Bahrain. Wall-to-wall sunshine is guaranteed and temperatures are set to be higher than yesterday - peaking at around 33 degrees Celsius.
A variable breeze will ensure that a thin film of dust and sand remains on the racing line, but otherwise the drivers shouldn't experience too many problems from the wind.
The track temperature hit 48 degrees yesterday during practice, and with higher ambient temperatures forecast we could see the magic 50 degree mark during qualifying later today.
Motor racing enthusiasts love to debate and discuss the action on track, and the live forum at the bottom of the screen is your chance to let everyone know your thoughts on events as they unfold at the circuit.
• Yesterday we had a Force India leading the field in the morning, and a Mercedes during the afternoon. McLaren and Ferrari were supposed to be the big favourites coming into the event. Will they take over at the front today?
• Red Bull suffered more than most with reliability issues affecting Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. Will the Austrian outfit enjoy a better day today?
• How will the three new teams fare as the stakes are raised at the sharp end in final practice and qualifying? Will Lotus or Virgin come out on top from their entertaining fight to be the best new team? And will Hispania Racing be able to build on its shaky start to life in Formula One?
Tell the world what you think.
Click the SHOW LIVE FORUM link in the red bar at the bottom of your browser window if you would like to join the debate.
The first day of a new season always throws up a few new car problems and yesterday was no exception:
• Mark Webber completed just 29 laps in total from yesterday's three hours of practice. The Australian suffered a gearbox problem in the afternoon, resulting in a loss of track time. He has already admitted that his Red Bull team will focus on qualifying pace during this morning's final session.
• Sebastian Vettel was also a victim of reliability in the sister Red Bull Renault. A brake problem sidelined the German for much of second practice, having completed a total of 35 laps across the two sessions.
• HRT F1 worked wonders to get their star driver Bruno Senna out for some shakedown laps during practice, before a wheel nut came loose at the end of the second session. Karun Chandhok was unable to take part in proceedings after the team found problems getting his car's transmission up and running. The team have had a further 24 hours to iron out the problems and Chandhok is hopeful of getting to run in Saturday practice.
• Sebastien Buemi was also forced to sit out the second practice, due to an oil leak on his Toro Rosso. Earlier, the Swiss had completed 13 laps in the morning with a best time of 1m58.399s.
• Virgin's Timo Glock was also sidelined in the afternoon, completing just three laps while his team worked on a gearbox problem.
With extensive high-fuel running completed on Friday, giving the teams the data they need to judge when to pit for tyres on Sunday, this final hour of practice can focus more on the upcoming qualifying session.
2010 rules mean all three segments of qualifying will be on low fuel - but compromises remain. Perhaps the most tricky is the fact that the cars will still be under parc ferme conditions once the grid is decided, meaning there is no chance to make anything other than minor front wing and cooling changes between a low-fuel qualifying car and the same machine tanked up for the race distance.
So, this hour of practice is the final chance to get the set-up dialled in for the rest of the weekend and in particular test the ride height, which will have to be higher than normal in qualifying to cope with the heavy fuel at the start of the race - especially over the sizable bump at Turn 6 on the new section of circuit.
The third and final practice is just five minutes away. We expect a lot of action during this hour-long session.
As ever, it is hot and sunny in the Sakhir desert. The ambient temperature is 32 Celsius, with 41 degrees on the track.
Fernando Alonso steps into his Ferrari and is ready to get his morning underway.
Karun Chandhok is ready to rock this morning. The Indian HRT F1 driver is standing next to his car with his helmet on, ready to climb aboard.
Quite a stiff breeze is blowing this morning, fluttering the large flag on top of the hospitality tower.
Michael Schumacher is sitting in his Mercedes. He too is ready for a big day of action today.
Jenson Button is strapped into his McLaren with the start of the session moments away.
Nico Rosberg is garnering much attention from the photographers this morning.
The practice session is underway.
Immediately the action begins as Liuzzi leads a small group of cars out onto the Sakhir circuit.
He is joined by Force India team-mate Sutil, Buemi and Alguersuari in the Toro Rosso entries and Michael Schumacher.
The Ferrari pair of Alonso and Massa are among the early runners.
The Force India duo lead the pack back into the pits en masse at the conclusion of the installation lap.
Timo Glock returns to the pits after an installation lap in the Virgin.
Nico Rosberg is working his way through his installation lap in the Mercedes, as Hulkenberg returns to the box in the Williams.
Michael Schumacher is back in following his checking lap. The team descend upon his his car with the tyre covers and cooling fans.
is happy with the cars after the first lap: "Done the installation lap: all OK for both drivers."
Pedro de la Rosa is touring around on an installation lap, as Jenson Button joins in with his McLaren.
Work continues apace in the HRT F1 garage, as the team continue readying both cars for this third session.
Button pits, just as team-mate Lewis Hamilton heads out for a lap.
Hispania Racing team boss Colin Kolles is watching over his cars with concern and a sense of nervousness, as the drivers sit ready in their cars prior to being given the all clear to run.
Most of the field have now completed an installation lap. The data downloads and cooling of the cars is in full swing. The drivers will soon be given the signal that all is okay for serious running to take place.
expect a short break in the action: "both drivers out of the car for approx 10 mins now"
Lucas di Grassi is touring around on an installation lap for Virgin Racing.
Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vetttel and Mark Webber now roll out onto the track for their installation run.
It's not sounding to good for Di Grassi in the Virgin as the Brazilian reports gearbox problems on the radio.
Both Red Bull drivers have continued over the line and start what could possibly be the first timed lap of the day.
Sebastien Buemi is back out in the Toro Rosso for a serious run of laps.
Vettel posts the first time on the board - 1m55.178s.
Di Grassi reports his Virgin has no seventh gear and the change between gears is very slow.
Mark Webber slots in behind his team-mate with 1m56.302s as the pair continue to lap quickly.
Problems continue with Chandhok's HRT as they are still unable to get the gearbox working correctly.
Michael Schumacher and Nico Hulkenberg have come out to test the conditions as the Red Bull drivers complete their second flying lap.
The Indian really needs to complete some running this morning as the regulations require all drivers to take part in final practice.
Vettel does not improve but Webber finds time and edges closer with 1m55.825s.
A large proportion of the field are now on track. Some high-fuel running can be expected in this phase of the session before qualifying practice later on.
Jaime Alguersuari is up into third place with 1m56.750s, directly ahead of STR team-mate Sebastien Buemi who has posted 1m57.404s.
Fernando Alonso has been wide over the kerbs in the tricky new section of track and he backs off to start a new flying lap.
Rubens Barrichello goes fifth at the end of his first flying lap in the Williams - 1m57.548s, as Bruno Senna comes out onto the circuit in the HRT F1 car.
A wheel is loose on the circuit ...
It has fallen off Timo Glock's Virgin.
The German is touring back to the pits with the left front wheel missing from the car.
Michael Schumacher splits the Red Bull drivers with a lap of 1m55.340s in the Mercedes, as his team-mate Rosberg goes fourth.
Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso has topped the order with a 1m55.105s.
Alonso was on for another improvement but had to dodge Glock's touring Virgin.
Glock is slowly making his way back to the pits minus the left front wheel. The wheel rolled away to a safe place and the session can continue under green.
Felipe Massa takes the best time away from his team-mate with a 1m54.761s lap.
Bruno Senna made it round the installation lap in the HRT F1 machine and the team are now working through the telemetry to see if all is okay.
The Virgin Racing team are busily examining the upright on Glock's car to see why the wheel was lost. FIA Technical Delegate Jo Bauer is on scene to look in to the problem.
We approach the half-way stage with Massa heading the times ahead of Nico Rosberg. Fernando Alonso is third in the second Ferrari with Vettel fourth, Schumacher fifth and Mark Webber rounding out the top six.
The McLaren pair have slotted in seventh and eighth, with Button quicker than team-mate Hamilton and still lapping the circuit.
Force India drivers Sutil and Liuzzi have yet to put a time on the board, but both are on track for their first run of the day.
Jenson Button improves to sixth quickest with a 1m55.763s, despite some evidence of graining on his right rear tyre.
In replay we see a very good demonstration of the Turn 6 bump that the drivers are unhappy with this weekend. Button's McLaren was wildly bucking and jerking around the tricky right-hander.
: "Vitaly's reporting a bit too much oversteer at the moment. Both guys on the harder tyres, softies will come later on..."
Bruno Senna is back on track again, as Sutil slots in eighth at the end of his first flying lap, with team-mate Liuzzi moving into 11th spot.
Timo Glock is told on the radio that the wheels weren't torqued sufficiently and the only reason the rear wheel didn't fall off too was due to the retention system.
Karun Chandhok is standing in the HRT F1 garage and looking quite concerned. His overalls are tied around his waist, as he continues to watch the mechanics work to ready his car.
Bruno Senna crosses the line and begins a timed lap in the other HRT F1 entry.
Robert Kubica slots in eighth quickest with his early timed effort of 1m55.928s.
We see that Senna made a small error exiting the final corner onto the main straight on his lap out of the pits. He ran slightly wide but continued without any problem.
Lewis Hamilton is back out in the McLaren.
Senna comes through to complete his first timed lap of the day without problem. He continues on for another lap.
Meantime, in the HRT garage, Chandhok still has his overalls wrapped round his waist as the team continue working on the rear of his car.
If the team do not get the problem rectified in the next 20 minutes then Chandhok's participation in the event could be over, as he would not be eligible to compete in qualifying.
The track is pretty busy now, with most of the runners out for some laps.
Michael Schumacher is pushing hard in the Mercedes, but he too is having great difficulty in negotiating Turn 6. The Silver machine bucks and jerks wildly as he skillfully rounds the tricky right-hander.
Alonso leads a train of cars back into the pits.
Michael Schumacher is among those to follow Alonso back in. He is fifth in the standings at the moment with a best lap of 1m55.202s.
Kobayashi continues to circulate in his Sauber while most cars are back in the pits to prepare for qualifying simulations.
Timo Glock is back out with all four wheels securely attached to his Virgin. He's 19th quickest at the moment.
Sebastian Vettel has been out for a short run in the Red Bull Renault. He returns to the pits as the team continue preparation work for qualifying.
Problems for Lewis Hamilton at McLaren and the team are busy looking at the left front hub.
It's the calm before the storm at the moment as teams prepare for qualifying runs.
Alonso is out on the softer tyres and is quick through the first sector.
Alonso is over half a second up on the benchmark through the second sector and heads for the line - 1m54.099s, topping the order.
Adrian Sutil is on a hot lap in the Force India. He is going for it with a set of the softer tyres.
Lucas di Grassi is still to set a time but is now on track.
Jenson Button crosses the line to start a qualifying run on soft tyres.
Sutil posts a 1m55.521s to go seventh - one place behind team-mate Liuzzi who has just put in a 1m55.432s lap.
Button is eight tenths slower than Alonso by the end of the second sector.
Up front, it's a Ferrari show of strength with Alonso leading the pack. Massa is second with Rosberg third, Vettel fourth, Schumacher fifth and Tonio Liuzzi sixth ahead of Sutil.
Over the line for Button in 1m55.000s to go fourth quickest.
Michael Schumacher is on his fastest lap so far this morning and aiming to move up from fifth. He does and goes second to Alonso with 1m54.533s but is quickly demoted back to third by Mark Webber.
Webber posted a 1m54.500s lap. Meanwhile, Vettel is also on the move and set to move up from seventh, but he makes a slight mistake running wide just a couple of corners from home.
Vettel goes fourth in the Red Bull Renault but he could have been a bit higher up the order.
Hamilton remains in the pits with that left front brake duct problem.
Rosberg is flying as the Mercedes drivers make a bid to take over at the top of the list. Rosberg goes second to Alonso with a time of 1m54.368s.
Karun Chandhok still hasn't made it out onto the circuit this morning, with more gear selection problems affecting HRT F1.
Laps continue in the final seconds of this practice session.
The session has ended. Cars that have already started a lap may complete it.
Felipe Massa has slipped to sixth in the late scramble but is on a quicker lap.
Bruno Senna has found some time in the other HRT F1 entry. He is down in 22nd place but his best lap is now 2m04.001s.
Massa is on the softer tyres and still on course for improvement by the end of the second sector.
Massa lost some time getting on to the back straight and remains sixth.
Down at the back, Glock is the best of the new team runners in 19th, heading Kovalainen and Trulli in the Lotus and Senna's HRT.
Senna crossed the line but his final lap yielded no improvement. He remains in 22nd spot with team-mate Chandhok now in all sorts of trouble.
Fernando Alonso puts Ferrari on top in Bahrain at the end of a very interesting hour of final practice. His benchmark time was 1m54.099s.
Nico Rosberg ended the 60-minute session in second spot, 0.269s shy of the Ferrari driver. Mark Webber was third for Red Bull ahead of Michael Schumacher.
Sebastian Vettel was fifth in the second of the Red Bull entries, with Massa sixth, Button seventh, Kubica eighth, Liuzzi ninth and Nico Hulkenberg continuing to impress in tenth spot.
Here's our round-up of final practice:
Alonso goes quickest in final practice
Problems, problems, problems ... the reliability disease is catching, but at the sharp end of the grid Ferrari moved to the top of the table with Fernando Alonso seeing off late challenges from the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers.
The wheels literally came off Timo Glock's work in the Virgin, but he set a pretty competitive time by the end of the session.
But at least he got laps in the car this morning. Lewis Hamilton was sidelined late in the session with brake cooling problems. Lucas di Grassi didn't set any times and poor Karun Chandhok missed the third session on the bounce.
Join us from 10:45 GMT as the stakes are raised for the all-important qualifying session for the opening round of the season - the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix.
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