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Raikkonen hits early problem
Alan Baldwin | March 10, 2006 23:30 IST
Kimi Raikkonen re-lived past nightmares on Friday when a suspected electrical problem halted his McLaren on the first day of practice for the new Formula One season.
The 2005 world championship runner-up, dogged by engine failure in the past, slowed and stopped at turn four of Bahrain's desert Sakhir circuit during the afternoon's second hour-long session.
The Finn helped marshals push the stricken car off the track before getting a ride back to the garages on a motorcycle.
Raikkonen had been the fastest race driver in a soporific first session, with Renault's 24-year-old world champion Fernando Alonso and other race favourites making only fleeting appearances.
The afternoon was busier. All 22 drivers lapped and Briton Anthony Davidson, Honda's test and reserve driver, was quickest with a lap of 1:31.353 after being sidelined in the morning with a gearbox problem.
Ferrari's seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher emerged as the fastest race driver, 0.398 seconds off the pace in a boost for the former champion after a dismal 2005 season.
His new Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa was fourth.
Alonso, the youngest champion in Formula One history at the age of 24, did no timed laps in the morning but was fifth quickest in the afternoon.
Italian Jarno Trulli, in a Toyota, parked up during the afternoon session.
With a new three-part qualifying format forcing drivers to do more mileage on Saturday, while engines must still last for two successive races, the big names had no incentive to spend much time on track.
Sunday's race in Bahrain and steamy Malaysia the following weekend, are two of the hottest and most demanding on engines.
Austrian Alexander Wurz, now the Williams test and reserve driver after years at McLaren, was first out of the pitlane at the start of the day but BMW Sauber's Polish reserve, Robert Kubica, was quickest in 1:32.170.
While the top teams stayed away, newcomers enjoyed their moment in the sunshine.
Japan's Super Aguri, the 11th team on the grid after winning late approval to compete, made a first appearance with Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide.
Ide, whose only Formula One experience before arriving in Bahrain amounted to 44 laps of the Barcelona circuit in a car derived from a four-year-old Arrows chassis, was the slowest as expected.The day also saw the debut at a grand prix weekend of the new Midland and Scuderia Toro Rosso teams that have replaced Jordan and Minardi respectively.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage