APRIL 2, 2005
BAHRAIN GP - SATURDAY - QUALIFYING SESSION 1 REPORT
Alonso stars in Bahrain thriller
Fernando Alonso gave the other Formula 1 teams a glimpse of Renault's supremacy in first qualifying in Bahrain with a lap that was a tenth of a second faster than Jarno Trulli's Toyota in a thrilling session. Alonso's time of 1m29.848s was two tenths of a second faster than last year's pole position time. The new Ferrari F2005 was third fastest but Michael Schumacher was nearly four-tenths off the pace of the Renault and while the two Williams-BMWs were fourth and sixth, they are still half a second off the pace.
The session began with Pedro de la Rosa recording a time for McLaren that was impressive in the circumstances and would end up being the ninth fastest time of the session. That would remain unbeaten until Mark Webber went out in the mid-session and clocked a 1m30.592s lap. He was beaten by Giancarlo Fisichella and the Italian would remain quickest until Michael Schumacher went out and shaved two-tenths off the Renault time. Interestingly this was done in the first sector of the lap after which Michael held the advantage but did not increase it. Nick Heidfeld got within a tenth of a second of the Ferrari, putting himself ahead of Fisichella but he was immediately beaten by Jarno Trulli who took provisional pole down to 1m29.993s. The last runner was Fernando Alonso and his was a very good lap and the World Championship leader ended up just ahead of Trulli.
The result overnight is that Alonso heads Trulli, Michael Schumacher, Heidfeld, Fisichella and Webber. Kimi Raikkonen (who went wide in the last corner) was seventh ahead of Christian Klien, de la Rosa, Felipe Massa and Ralf Schumacher, who made a big mistake in the fourth turn. Jenson Button and Takuma Sato suffered from going out early and were 12th and 13th while David Coulthard was next up ahead of Jacques Villeneuve in the second Sauber, who went wide in the last corner on his lap.
The big question is who is running on harder tyres and who is running with soft rubber and the effect that this will have on race pace in the race.