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Home > India > Sports > Formula One > Reuters > Report

Raikkonen and Hamilton renew their rivalry

Alan Baldwin | March 14, 2008 17:55 IST

Kimi Raikkonen [Images] and Lewis Hamilton [Images] renewed their rivalry on Friday with pace-setting performances in the two practice sessions for Formula One's Australian season-opener.

Ferrari's [Images] Raikkonen, limbering up for his first race as world champion, laid down an early marker for Sunday's grand prix with a one minute 26.461 second lap that topped the morning timesheets at Albert Park.

But the Finn was less happy with his car's set-up in the afternoon, when Hamilton was quickest.

"I'm not very happy with the way practice went," he said. "This morning we found some good settings for the car but in the afternoon we struggled and our lap times reflect that.

"We must look carefully at the data to work out how to improve the car."

Raikkonen won in Melbourne last year on his Ferrari debut and the Finn will be chasing a third successive victory after ending 2007 on a high with triumphs in China and Brazil [Images] taking him to the title by a single point.

Hamilton, the 23-year-old who missed out on the 2007 title by a single point after a stunning debut season with McLaren, was more positive.

"There was some good progress with the car and we made the best use of the ever-improving track conditions," said the Briton.

His lap of 1:26.559, in 36 degree Celsius heat and under a cloudless sky, ousted Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber from the top spot.


Ferrari and McLaren, between them winners of every race last year, dominated the field in the first session but the pecking order was shaken up by Red Bull's strong showing after lunch.

Webber, who was a considerable 0.914 off Hamilton's time, cautioned his home fans against expecting too much however after a session that saw cars running with different fuel levels.

"We're not second quickest, we're still fighting for the back of the points," he said.

Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa [Images] and McLaren's new Finnish signing Heikki Kovalainen were third and fourth fastest respectively in both sessions.

Spain's double world champion Fernando Alonso [Images], who has returned to Renault after a bitter and tumultuous year alongside Hamilton at McLaren, was sixth in the morning but 13th in the second stint and complained of gusting winds.

"We must still find some performance but I am optimistic for the rest of the weekend," he said.

The top 10 highlighted the fierce fight behind Ferrari and McLaren, with seven teams jostling for position.

Poland's Robert Kubica was seventh fastest for BMW [Images] in the morning, ahead of Toyota's German rookie Timo Glock and compatriot Sebastian Vettel in a Toro Rosso.

Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, a winner in Australia with Renault in 2005, showed Force India are likely to be more serious contenders than predecessors Spyker with ninth place in the afternoon after 12th place earlier on.

Toyota-powered Williams, whose pre-season testing times were impressive, made a troubled start with Germany's [Images] Nico Rosberg failing to register a timed lap in the morning before lapping eighth fastest in the second session.

The first session was halted for four minutes after Brazilian rookie Nelson Piquet Jr spun and stalled on the track.

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