Misery for Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen’s world championship challenge got off to a familiarly frustrating start in Bahrain today.

Kimi Raikkonen’s world championship challenge got off to a familiarly frustrating start in Bahrain today.

The Finn’s title chances last season were ruined by mechanical failures and on his 12th lap of today’s second practice, he got an unwelcome sense of deja vu.

His McLaren crawled to a halt on the track and had to be wheeled away with Raikkonen watching on forlornly. If his car needs a replacement Mercedes engine, he will be hit with a 10-place grid penalty.

Honda test driver Anthony Davidson set the quickest time, of one minute 31.353 seconds, as Ferrari fired out a statement of intent.

Former world champion Michael Schumacher was second, with new team-mate Felipe Massa fourth. Williams test driver Alex Wurz was third.

Schumacher’s successor as world champion, Fernando Alonso, was fifth fastest for Renault with Vitantonio Liuzzi a surprise sixth on Scuderia Toro Rosso’s debut.

Jenson Button claimed ninth for Honda as new team-mate Rubens Barrichello languished in 18th. Red Bull’s David Coulthard was 19th.

Super Aguri’s debut at a grand prix weekend proved to be just as challenging as predicted.

The Honda-backed team faced a race against time just to get two cars to Bahrain this weekend and they struggled for pace with a four-year-old ex-Arrows chassis.

Takuma Sato got the better of Yuji Ide as they scrapped for last spot, but the former BAR driver’s best effort was over six seconds slower than Davidson.

Ide was another second further adrift in 28th and last, ending his first day as a Formula One driver marooned on the track after a problem.

Of the other rookies on show, Scuderia Toro Rosso pair Neel Jani and Scott Speed were 15th and 16th respectively.

BMW-Sauber’s Robert Kubica was 10th and Midland’s Markus Winkelhock 23rd after a spin.

Earlier today, the new season began with a whimper in first practice as 11 drivers, including Alonso, opted not to set a lap time.

Kubica, the first Pole in Formula One, set the fastest time with an effort of one minute 32.170 seconds. Wurz was second with Raikkonen third, the fastest of the race drivers.

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