Ferraris dominate first practice in Bahrain

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Ferraris dominated the first practice on Friday for the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa setting the best times by a huge margin.

Updated: April 15, 2007 17:50 IST
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Sakhir, Bahrain:

Ferraris dominated the first practice on Friday for the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa setting the best times by a huge margin over their McLaren challengers.

On a windy, hazy day with sand blowing on the 5.412-kilometer (3.363-mile) Bahrain International circuit, Raikkonen, the winner of the season-opening Australian GP, had a time of 1 minute, 33.162 seconds, more than a half-second better than Massa, 1:33.679.

Almost a second behind Raikkonen was McLaren's Lewis Hamilton with 1:34.110.

Fernando Alonso, the double world champion who won last week's Malaysian Grand Prix, followed his McLaren teammate with 1:34.161.

The best of the rest was Jarno Trulli in a Toyota at 1:34.896.

There is another practice Friday afternoon and also 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 tender engine in the last race and could not 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.

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.

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.

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.

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