Bahrain practice sees Lotus well behind

Michael BaileyHingham-based Lotus finished five seconds off the pace after the first free practice sessions of the new Formula One season.With the curtain opening Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend, Heikki Kovalainen (2 minutes 0.873 seconds) and Jarno Trulli (2:00.990) were 18th and 19th fastest respectively around the Sakhir circuit after two sessions, with one more on Saturday morning (7am GMT) ahead of qualifying at 11am.Michael Bailey

Hingham-based Lotus finished five seconds off the pace after the first free practice sessions of the new Formula One season.

With the curtain opening Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend, Heikki Kovalainen (2 minutes 0.873 seconds) and Jarno Trulli (2:00.990) were 18th and 19th fastest respectively around the Sakhir circuit after two sessions, with one more on Saturday morning (7am GMT) ahead of qualifying at 11am.

The Virgin Racing car of Timo Glock was not far behind, although the German put in fewer laps after some teething problems.

Hispania's Bruno Senna made it on to the track for the first time but was more than 11 seconds behind the leader, while team-mate Karun Chandock did not leave the garage.

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg led the field (1:55.409), with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and half a second quicker than the returning Michael Schumacher.

Defending champion Jenson Button was fourth fastest ahead of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, while Force India's Adrian Sutil had led the first session of the season on Friday morning.

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However, with fuel loads, tyres and aerodynamic tweaks continuing, Saturday's qualifying promises to be the first genuine benchmark for this season's 12 Formula One teams.