The opening practice session of the Bahrain GP, and who's on top? Lewis Hamilton for the McLaren team. Hamilton set the fastest time, half a second ahead of his team-mate Jenson Button. But it isn't as if the McLaren drivers dominated the session. In the early stages it even looked like Red Bull was going to run away at the head of the field. Despite Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber's best efforts though, Michael Schumacher and then the two McLarens managed to edge their way past.
Button and Schuey set times of 1m 21.6 s and 1m 21.7 s respectively, before Lewis put in a storming 1m 21.1 s lap time.
For the first time in a while now, Schumi looks comfortable with his car, which has benefited from a chassis change as well as a longer wheelbase. Schumacher's team-mate, Nico Rosberg finished the session sixth for Mercedes, just ahead of the Renault of Robert Kubica. Fernando Alonso was the faster of the two Ferraris, finishing the session in 8th, with Vitaly Petrov 9th and Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi in tenth spot.
At Force India, it was Paul di Resta who set the 13th fastest time, replacing Force India's regular driver Adrian Sutil, and finishing two places ahead of Vitantonio Liuzzi.
And Hispania Racing's new test and reserve driver, Christian Klien replaced Indian driver Karun Chandhok for the first practice session at Catalunya. Klien clocked a time faster than HRT team-mate, Bruno Senna.
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.134
2. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.672
3. Schumacher Mercedes 1:21.716
4. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:22.011
5. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:22.026
6. Rosberg Mercedes 1:22.070
7. Kubica Renault 1:22.202
8. Alonso Ferrari 1:22.258
9. Petrov Renault 1:22.397
10. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:22.492
11. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:22.588
12. Massa Ferrari 1:22.975
13. di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:23.030
14. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:23.110
15. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:23.284
16. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:23.312
17. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:23.471
18. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:25.329
19. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:26.244
20. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:26.340
21. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:26.694
22. Klien HRT-Cosworth 1:27.250
23. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:27.752
24. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari No time