Schumacher impresses during practice

Michael Schumacher's claim he is not in the running for victory on his comeback in Bahrain on Sunday appears to hold little water.

The seven-times Formula One champion and Mercedes GP team-mate Nico Rosberg finished first and third at the end of today's two practice sessions ahead of Sunday's opening grand prix.



Schumacher has consistently dithered over his prediction in pre-season as to his prospects before categorically stating yesterday he was not in the running for the race win at the Sakhir circuit.



Appreciably, with a re-fuelling ban in place for this season, it has become increasingly difficult to assess lap times as you can never be sure as to a car's fuel load.



But with Rosberg at the top of the timesheets overall today with a lap of one minute 55.409 seconds, and Schumacher less than half a second adrift of his fellow German, Mercedes are certainly in the running to take the chequered flag.



Sandwiched in between the duo was McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, his car now declared legal following scrutineering in relation to a clever aerodynamic device.



The design employs Hamilton or team-mate Jenson Button to close off a vent in the cockpit of their car using their legs, which in turn helps to stall the rear wing for extra straight-line speed.



Despite FIA race director Charlie Whiting giving the all clear, it has been suggested at least one team will protest after the race.



With reigning world champion Button fourth quickest, 0.667secs behind Rosberg, it meant that Mercedes-powered cars occupied the top four slots.



At the recently-lengthened track that sits in the middle of the Bahraini desert, stretched from 5.412km to 6.299km, last year's championship runner-up Sebastian Vettel pushed his Red Bull up to fifth, albeit a second down.



On his Williams debut, promising prospect Nico Hulkenberg made it four Germans in the top six, followed by Ferrari's Felipe Massa, whose team-mate Fernando Alonso was ninth, sandwiching an improved run from Renault's Russian rookie Vitaly Petrov.



Given the practice times in the first session compared to the second, it was abundantly clear the Ferrari duo were running with increased fuel loads later in the day.



Sauber's pairing of Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi hauled themselves up to 10th and 11th with barely a tenth of a second separating them, albeit just under two seconds behind Rosberg.



Force India's Adrian Sutil, who led the way in the morning on a low-fuel run, ran heavy in the afternoon as he was 12th overall, 0.8secs slower than earlier in the day.



Team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi was half a second down in 14th, with the veteran of Williams' Rubens Barrichello splitting the duo in 13th.



Renault's Robert Kubica, who was third in the morning, was another who experimented with a fuller fuel tank as he was down in 15th in the afternoon, almost three seconds off the pace.



Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari was 16th and Red Bull's Mark Webber 17th with a lap time just over the two-minute mark for a circuit that now boasts a further eight corners compared to a year ago.



In the battle of the newcomers, the Lotus duo of Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli finished 18th and 19th, edging out Virgin Racing's Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi.



However, Trulli's car lost a piece of bodywork running down the pit straight, whilst Glock completed just three laps due to problems.



The Lotus' were 5.5 seconds behind Rosberg, with the Virgins just over another second down.



In 20th, Hispania Racing's Bruno Senna managed to complete 17 laps on his team's first outing as financial issues over the winter resulted in them not completing a single lap of testing.



Senna's F1 debut, however, ended badly at the chequered flag to the session - in which he finished 11.5 seconds down - as he lost a piece of the right wheel that forced him to park his car off track.



Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi also had his problems as he managed just one installation lap in the afternoon due to an issue at the rear of the car.



As for India's Karun Chandhok, the Hispania Racing driver failed to take to the track at all today due to a suspension issue.



Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone