Kimi Raikkonen shows Ferrari speed at Bahrain

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Bahrain, 2008 | Ferrari S.p.A.Shortly before the start of the 2004 season, Michael Schumacher and Ferrari tested the new Bridgestone tyres at Imola and suddenly found they were whole seconds quicker than the opposition.

Kimi Raikkonen’s highly competitive lap times at Bahrain today may have reminded Ferrari’s rivals of that moment. But with only Toyota testing alongside them it’s hard to judge how quick they are.

But let’s try anyway…

Let’s take a look at the quickest times from the two tests at 2008 Grand Prix venues so far:

Circuit de Catalunya

2007 race fastest lap: 1’22.680 – Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2007 Q3 fastest lap: 1’21.421 – Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2007 Q2 fastest lap: 1’20.597 – Felipe Massa, Ferrari

Fastest lap in 2008 testing so far: 1’21.679 – Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 2/2/08

Bahrain International Circuit

2007 race fastest lap: 1’34.067 – Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2007 Q3 fastest lap: 1’32.652 – Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2007 Q2 fastest lap: 1’31.359 – Felipe Massa, Ferrari

Fastest lap in 2008 testing so far: 1’30.595 – Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 5/2/08

On the face of it, Kimi Raikkonen’s lap time today seems to indicate that Ferrari have a substantial performance advantage. Behind Vettel in the 2007 hybrid Toro Rosso the fastest ’08 specification car was Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren with a 1’22.135 – more good news for the Scuderia.

Of course these times don’t show us the whole picture. For example, the Bahrain Grand Prix was one month earlier than the Spanish race last year, so the drivers at the Catalunya test were aiming at a more recent and therefore quicker benchmark.

Ferrari’s extended advantage over Toyota, the only other team testing at Bahrain, suggests the Italian team have found a step forward in performance since their previous test at Valencia:

Valencia, 24/1/08

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari – 1’11.189
Jarno Trulli, Toyota – 1’12.109 (+0.920s)

Bahrain International Circuit, 5/2/08

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari – 1’30.595
Timo Glock, Toyota – 1’32.889 (+2.314s)

Again, it’s worth pointing out that Toyota were focused on component testing rather than laptime-chasing today, but a deficit of almost two and a half seconds is not to be taken lightly.

And there are always variations in weather and the state of the tracks that make these kinds of comparisons difficult.

But the early signs are Ferrari have picked up from where they left off at the end of 2007, with a car that is markedly quicker than the oppositions. It’s still too soon to say that 2008 will be a one (prancing) horse race, but unless McLaren

More 2008 F1 testing reports