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Raikkonen on top in practices in Bahrain

india Updated: Apr 14, 2007 01:06 IST
Raikkonen on top in practices in Bahrain

Kimi Raikkonen was the fastest in the first two practices for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday, while Lewis Hamilton was just behind as he bids to create Formula One history.

Ferrari teammates Raikkonen and Felipe Massa set the best times in the morning practice, before Raikkonen was quickest in the afternoon with Hamilton second.

Raikkonen, winner of the opening Australian GP, finished in 1 minute, 33.162 seconds in the morning and 1:33.527 in the afternoon on the 5.412-kilometer (3.363-mile) Bahrain International circuit. Hamilton was third in the morning in 1:34.110, and then timed 1:33.540 in the afternoon.

His McLaren teammate, Fernando Alonso, the double world champion who won last week's Malaysian GP, had fourth- and fifth-place finishes. Massa came fourth in the afternoon.

There is another practice Saturday morning, with qualifying set for Saturday afternoon.

Ferrari did well in the February testing here and also have new engines after two races. Raikkonen, who finished third at Malaysia behind the two McLarens, said he had to make compromises to preserve his engine in the last race and wasn't able to challenge Alonso Massa had the pole position in the last race but was overtaken by Alonso and Hamilton in the run-up to the first turn and finished fifth.

Hamilton, a 22-year-old Briton in his rookie season with McLaren-Mercedes and F1's first black driver, is now looking to make F1 history this weekend.

No driver_ not seven-time champion Michael Schumacher nor Alonso, nor any of the other drivers in the series dating back to 1950_ has ever started his F1 career with three consecutive finishes in the top three.

Hamilton finished third in Australia and second in Malaysia. The last driver to take two F1 podium finishes in his first two races was Britain's Peter Arundell in 1964. However Arundell, after thirds in Monaco and the Netherlands, overheated his car at the Belgian GP and came in ninth.

Schumacher started with a clutch problem in his first race for Jordan, the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix. Alonso began his career in a Minardi with a 12th at the 2001 Australian GP behind a Schumacher win.

After two races, Alonso is leading the standings with 18 points from two races, ahead of Raikkonen with 16 and Hamilton on 14. Alonso won the Bahrain GP last year in a stretch when he won six of the first nine races for Renault. He switched to McLaren over the winter.

Sunday's 57-lap race is the third of the season. Bahrain was the season opener in 2006.

At the Malaysian GP last Sunday, Alonso and Hamilton gave McLaren a 1-2 finish and the team's first victory in F1 since October 2005.