Raikkonen: Not an easy day in Bahrain

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Kimi Raikkonen has called his final day of pre-season testing “not easy” after a minor problem with the Ferrari F14 T limited his running on Saturday morning.

The Finnish driver finished in third place on the timesheets with a fastest lap of 1:35.426 (over two seconds down on pace-setter Felipe Massa) as he focused on a race simulation in the afternoon. However, due to a problem with a connector, the team had to partially dismantle the car to resolve the issue after Raikkonen had completed only a handful of laps.

“I’d hoped to do more laps, but this wasn’t an easy day,” Raikkonen explained. “We lost some time this morning when we had to fix something on the car, but then we managed to make up for some of it in the afternoon.

“Running a race distance, we continued to get more data relating to fuel consumption strategies and tire degradation, even though the strong wind upset the driving a lot.

“I’d like to be able to say we did better, but there’s still one more day with Fernando to continue our preparation for Melbourne.”

Raikkonen’s next chance to get behind the wheel of the F14 T will come during practice for the Australian Grand Prix in twelve days’ time. The Finn will be hoping to repeat his feat of winning on debut for Ferrari at the 2007 race in Melbourne, but with Mercedes appearing to be the pace-setters so far this season, he may face more of a challenge than he did seven years ago.

Teammate Fernando Alonso will return to the car for the final day of winter testing tomorrow in Bahrain.

The problem with high gusts of wind and sand was noted by many drivers, with Nico Rosberg saying: “The only problem was the conditions, with a lot of wind and blowing sand at some corners meaning that suddenly you could have almost no grip which was a bit difficult to manage.”

IndyCar: Turn 5 gives drivers fits in Friday’s second practice at Barber Motorsports Park

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You’ve heard of the Fast Six in IndyCar, right?

Well, Friday’s second practice session for Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama was the Frustrating Five – Turn 5, that is.

It almost might be easier to list those drivers that were not bitten by the cantankerous turn on the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park layout in Birmingham, Alabama.

Close to 10 drivers in the 23-driver field suffered issues in the turn, ranging from running off the grass and back on, to getting stuck and having to be towed out, to suffering damage.

But by the time the one-hour session was over, Josef Newgarden took a big step towards defending his win from last year’s race there, being fastest in Friday’s second of two practice sessions.

Newgarden covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in a speed of 122.786 mph at a best lap time of 1:07.4345 minutes.

Spencer Pigot was second (125.599 mph/1:07.5372), followed by Sebastien Bourdais (122.129 mph/1:07.7971), Will Power (122.107 mph/1:07.8092) and last week’s winner at Long Beach, Alexander Rossi (122.065 mph/1:07.8326).

Sixth through 10th-fastest were Scott Dixon (122.044 mph/1:07.8445), Ryan Hunter-Reay (121.975 mph/1:07.8829), Takuma Sato (121.652 mph/1:08.0628), Marco Andretti (121.579 mph/1:08.1040) and Graham Rahal (121.572 mph/1:08.1076).

Now, speaking of all the incidents, here’s a list.

INCIDENTS:

* Right after rookie Matheus Leist spun early in the session in Turn 5, fellow rookie Zach Veach spun with about 45 minutes left in the session in Turn 5. Graham Rahal had to take evasive action to miss Veach.

But that wasn’t all, as Sebastien Bourdais followed in almost the same spot with a spin of his own roughly a minute later, and then Gabby Chaves also had his problems in the same turn, going into the grass but avoiding the gravel.

* Simon Pagenaud joined his Penske Racing teammate Josef Newgarden in the Turn 5 gravel. Newgarden spun into the gravel in the first practice session.

* Rookie Rene Binder, who has struggled in his inaugural season, continued to have issues, running into the wall and causing damage to the front end, needing a tow truck to get him righted.

It appeared Binder snapped part of the front suspension in the incident.

* Turn 5 saw James Hinchcliffe and Tony Kanaan run off-track late in the session, but they were able to continue.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The third and final practice of the weekend will take place Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET, to be televised live on CNBC (with an encore performance at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN). The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, the weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

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