Kimi Raikkonen was in a typically restrained mood despite setting the pace in the second practice session for the Bahrain Grand Prix and enjoying a 0.5s advantage over Mercedes.
As the first driver to set a lap time on supersoft tires during FP1, Raikkonen immediately jumped to the top of the timing screens and then saw a number of other drivers fail to better his time. With teammate Sebastian Vettel taking two laps to get within 0.011s of Raikkonen’s time, the two Ferraris were comfortably clear at the front during the only representative practice session of the weekend but the Finn was predictably calm about the performance.
“Ah, I would say it was a pretty normal Friday,” Raikkonen said of his pace-setting day. “Obviously people want to know the lap times but it often they don’t tell very much. It was a very normal Friday for us; as usual we don’t know what the others are doing, so for sure there are things to improve a bit, but so far it was OK. Tomorrow will be a different day – we’ll do our best, try to improve and see where we’ll end up.
“I think if you purely look at the lap times, then yes [it was very positive], but obviously it’s only Friday and there were things we started to learn, things we have to improve for tomorrow and there we see where we are. But it wasn’t too bad, it was a pretty normal Friday for me.”
Raikkonen’s running was cut short when he was forced to stop on track shortly after leaving the pit lane late in the session, and he confirmed the issue was due to a loose wheel. Ferrari was fined €5000 [$6144] for releasing Raikkonen’s car in an unsafe condition.
“I think it was the right-front wheel. Exiting Turn 2 I felt there was some vibration and then the team told me to slow down. I think the wheel remained a bit loose after we changed the tires, unfortunately.”
Vettel echoed his teammate’s caution but says Ferrari has been working hard since Australia to improve some of the weaknesses it noticed in Melbourne.
“We always hope so, yes,” Vettel said when asked if Ferrari had closed the gap to Mercedes. “I think we need to wait because I don’t know what happened today. It looked like we were a bit quicker than the rest but it depends a bit on the program.
“At this point I wouldn’t draw any conclusions and I think we will focus on ourselves and the setup mostly to try and get a bit of a better feel, which at times was good and other times not yet there. There’s still some stuff to do.
“We’ve been flat out [since Melbourne]. In Australia we were behind and also in terms of feeling not yet happy. We tried some stuff today mostly to fix the front end because it wasn’t very strong in Australia and it’s got a bit better, so let’s see where we are tomorrow. I think we can still improve for both short and long run.”