Massa tops opening Sakhir practice
19 April 2013 – Felipe Massa set the pace in the opening practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix, delivering a personal best effort of 1:34.487 on the Hard compound tyre allocation. The Brazilian led Ferrari team-mate and Shanghai victor Fernando Alonso by 0.077 seconds, while Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg completed the top three.
Pleasant weather conditions welcomed the paddock at the Sakhir venue this morning, with air and track temperatures rising steadily throughout the 90 minute session. After the initial phase of installation laps and the now traditional lull in track activity due to the limited number of tyres available in first practice, Nico Hülkenberg emerged as the early pace-setter for Sauber, lowering the benchmark time throughout his first stint.
As the session progressed and the remainder of the field began full runs, Red Bull and Ferrari moved to the front of the order. After Sebastian Vettel’s pace-setting effort, the Ferrari pairing of Alonso and Massa established their authority, with the latter overcoming visible setup issues to take the top spot.
Rosberg, who was last to leave the pit lane alongside team-mate Lewis Hamilton, wound up 0.134 seconds adrift of Massa in third, while Vettel slipped back to fourth in the leading Red Bull. Force India's Paul di Resta stayed within half a second of Massa, putting his car just ahead of McLaren rival and fellow Briton Jenson Button.
As his 200th Grand Prix weekend got underway, Mark Webber finished as the seventh quickest driver. The Australian wound up just ahead of Adrian Sutil, whose session was affected slightly when mechanics opted to change the floor on his car. Two tenths of a second further back, Lotus drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten runners. Hamilton had to settle for 13th position.
In the battle at the back of the grid, Caterham held the early advantage courtesy of Charles Pic’s fastest lap. The Frenchman finished comfortably ahead of the returning Heikki Kovalainen, while Marussia’s Max Chilton wound up a full second further back. Rodolfo González, making his first practice appearance, completed the order.
Friday’s second practice session at Sakhir gets underway at 2pm local time (GMT +3) and can be tracked via the GPUpdate.net Live Report