After a sandstorm had wiped out the majority of the second and entirety of the third day of this week's Formula 1 test in Bahrain, the drivers and teams present were at last able to take to the track again on the final day in the desert kingdom today – which came as a particular relief to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Toyota's Jarno Trulli.
Having been similarly prevented from enjoying any meaningful 'saddle time' inside the Scuderia's
new F60 by a torrential downpour at Mugello last month, Raikkonen got down to business with a vengeance on Friday, making the most of the better conditions and visibility to complete 105 tours of the Sakhir-based circuit after the wind had stopped blowing sand everywhere and lap times began to fall.
Despite the initial dirtiness of the track surface, as well as early fog and continuing strong winds, the Finn worked his way through a set-up programme on Maranello's new challenger, disrupted only by a minor mid-afternoon hydraulic issue, and wound up just over a tenth of a second clear of Trulli in the final reckoning, before he returns to Bahrain to continue testing at the start of next week.
“The track was very slippery in the morning, due to the sand,” related the 2007 F1 World Champion, “but we managed to go ahead with our programme. It's a pity for the time we lost over the last days, but it didn't depend on us. This happens and you just have to accept it.
“My first day with the new F60 on a dry track was extremely positive. I immediately had a good feeling, although it's still too early to say where we are compared to our competitors. The car is improving and there are no especially critical areas. We used the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) also today, and I'm happy with how it works, apart from some minor childhood disease.”
For Trulli too, the day marked the first really constructive running with Toyota's TF109, and the experienced Italian completed 127 laps – the most of the three drivers present – over the course of proceedings, as he concentrated on set-up and tyre work and professed himself content with progress.
“This was a good day's work,” underlined the 34-year-old. “In the morning the track conditions were still really poor with a lot of dust on the circuit. It was also very windy, but the surface cleaned up during the day and got better and better.
“We managed to get through a lot of laps and the car balance felt pretty good. We are still playing around with set-up and other parameters to understand how to get the most out of the package, but it looks promising so far, so let's hope we can carry on like this.”
“That was finally the kind of day that you expect when you go for winter testing in Bahrain,” added the Cologne-based outfit's chief race and test engineer Dieter Gass. “After the interruptions of the last two days, we enjoyed fine weather with perfect sunshine throughout the sessions.