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Button fastest in Bahrain practice

April 03, 2004 14:28 IST

Briton Jenson Button, fresh from the first podium finish of his Formula One career, put BAR on top of the timesheets in Saturday's first practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The 24-year-old lapped in one minute 30.062 seconds, easily the fastest time yet at the Sakhir circuit which hosts the first Grand Prix in the Middle East on Sunday.

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Friday's best lap was 1:31.450.

It was also the first time this season that Button, third in Malaysia two weeks ago, has set the fastest time in a practice session.

The Honda-powered team have yet to win a race since they entered Formula One in 1999 but they can expect to be contenders in Bahrain, a circuit unfamiliar to all teams.

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya was second quickest for Williams, 0.059 slower than Button, with Ferrari's six times world champion Michael Schumacher third.

McLaren's woes continued after Finland's Kimi Raikkonen's engine caught fire on Friday, forcing him to replace the unit and start Sunday's race 10 places down from wherever he qualifies on Saturday.

Raikkonen was sixth fastest on Saturday but British team mate David Coulthard spun off with five minutes remaining of the first session with smoke coming from the back of the car, possibly from the rear brakes or tyres.

The Scot, who pushed his car away from the runoff after a tyre failure on Friday, again laboured in the shimmering heat as marshals came to his assistance.

Brazilian Felipe Massa, in a Sauber, did not set a time in the session after his engine stopped due to a fuel supply problem.

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