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Mercedes, McLaren drivers lead practice for Formula One's Bahrain Grand Prix

March 12, 2010 | 12:49 pm


Nico Rosberg of Mercedes GP and former champion Lewis Hamilton of McLaren topped the speed charts Friday in the second practice ahead of Formula One's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday at the island country in the Persian Gulf.

With temperatures nearing 90 degrees at the Sakhir circuit, Rosberg turned the fastest lap, followed by Hamilton and then Rosberg teammate Michael Schumacher, the seven-time champion who is coming out of retirement. Hamilton teammate Jenson Button, Formula One's reigning champion, was fourth quickest.

In the first practice, Adrian Sutil of the Force India team was fastest, followed by two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.

The practices weren't seen as especially strong previews of Sunday's race, however, because teams use them largely as shakedown exercises to get accustomed to the track, run various loads of fuel and to tweak the cars for qualifying Saturday and for the race itself.

In addition, "the conditions today were totally different to winter testing" with the high temperatures, and some of the practice laps were merely to check for tire wear and otherwise adjust the cars for the heat, said driver Robert Kubica of Renault.

The result, Hamilton said, was that "the positions on today’s time sheets don’t really reflect [the] overall pace too much yet."

-- Jim Peltz

Photo: Nico Rosberg of Mercedes GP during the second practice Friday for the Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir, Bahrain. Credit: Jens Buettner / EPA