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Raikkonen Tops Time Sheets Again

posted 22 Mar 2013, 04:17 by Mpelembe   [ updated 22 Mar 2013, 04:17 ]

Kimi Raikkonen follows win in Melbourne GP by setting fastest time at Friday practice in Malaysia

SEPANGMALAYSIA (MARCH 22, 2013) (FOM) -  Kimi Raikkonen carried the form that propelled him to a season-opening victory to Sepang on Friday (March 22) after the Finn edged a fascinating first day of practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix in his finely balanced Lotus.

The 2007 Formula One world champion was second to Red Bull's Mark Webberin the bone-dry morning session but forged his way to the top of the timesheets in the afternoon before the heavens opened with 30 minutes remaining of second free practice.

Raikkonen lapped in one minute 36:569 seconds to shade the other Red Bull ofSebastian Vettel by 0.019 seconds, with a resurgent Felipe Massa (1:36.661) clocking the third fastest time of the day in his Ferrari.

Spain's Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest in the other Ferrari, marginally ahead of Webber, who was quicker in the morning, and the second Lotus of Romain Grosjean, indicating a tight three-way tussle looms between the teams that filled the podium places in Melbourne last Sunday.

Raikkonen easily held off Alonso and Vettel at Albert Park after a poor qualifying session but on a track where he won his first Formula One grand prix in 2003, the Finn proved he was more than capable of matching the one-lap speed of his rivals.

The Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were a little off the pace but with team principal Ross Brawn hinting the cars were carrying a heavier fuel load to gauge tyre wear, they are likely to be closer to the leaders in qualifying on Saturday.

The battle for the final two spots in Q3 (the 10-car third qualifying round) appears set to be fought between Force India, who showed their strong Melbourneshowing was no fluke, the improving McLarens and Sauber.

The second session was a polar opposite to the first in terms of action on the circuit as the prospect of rain forced all the cars out early in an attempt to set timed laps on a dry surface.

Fitted with the medium tyres after using the hards in the morning, almost everyone set faster times before the first drops of rain sent the cars back to the pits before they could start their race simulations in the final half hour of the day.

A heavy shower gave drivers a chance to test their intermediate and wet tyres in anticipation of similar conditions during the race on Sunday, before a few drivers braved dry tyres in the final 10 minutes but no one improved on their times.

In first free practice, Webber topped the charts with a lap of one minute 36.935, just 0.068 seconds ahead of Raikkonen, who lost 40 minutes of the session as Lotus mechanics changed the Finn's KERS battery following his installation lap.

World champion Vettel clocked 1:37.104, marginally ahead of Alonso, who won this race last year, and Rosberg.

Mindful of the rapid tyre wear experienced with this year's Pirellis, all 22 drivers opted to complete installation laps at the start of the session before returning to the pits and watching the clock tick down to the final hour.

Spectators would have been disappointed to have arrived at the track and not witnessed any action after the early flurry of activity until the cars returned to the circuit to set timed laps on low fuel loads for the second 30 minutes of the session.

"We are trying to find the optimum time to run the cars but we appreciate the concerns of the fans, who want to see cars on the track," Brawn said in a television interview.

"It may be a good idea to have a sacrificial set of tyres for us to use in practice."

Motor racing-Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix 2nd free practice session

March 22 (Infostrada Sports) - 2nd Free Practice Session from the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit on Friday

1. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus - Renault 1:36.569

2. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) RedBull - Renault 1:36.588

3. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1:36.661

4. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1:36.985

5. Mark Webber (Australia) RedBull - Renault 1:37.026

6. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus - Renault 1:37.206

7. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1:37.448

8. Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India - Mercedes 1:37.571

9. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1:37.574

10. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India - Mercedes 1:37.788

11. Sergio Perez (Mexico) McLaren 1:37.838

12. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1:37.865

13. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Sauber - Ferrari 1:38.068

14. Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber - Ferrari 1:38.645

15. Jean-Eric Vergne (FranceToro Rosso - Ferrari 1:38.738

16. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams - Renault 1:38.801

17. Daniel Ricciardo (AustraliaToro Rosso - Ferrari 1:38.904

18. Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia - Cosworth 1:39.508

19. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams - Renault 1:39.660

20. Charles Pic (France) Caterham - Renault 1:40.757

21. Giedo van der Garde (Netherlands) Caterham - Renault 1:40.768

22. Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia - Cosworth 1:41.438