Schumacher spreads fear as Wurz has best practice

Michael Schumacher sent ripples of fear along the pit road as he expressed his satisfaction with his new Ferrari, but it was the forgotten man Alexander Wurz who stepped into the limelight here yesterday.

Michael Schumacher sent ripples of fear along the pit road as he expressed his satisfaction with his new Ferrari, but it was the forgotten man Alexander Wurz who stepped into the limelight here yesterday.

The 31-year-old Austrian, who last raced for Benetton in 2000, was called up to drive the third McLaren-Mercedes after Juan Pablo Montoya's controversial accident last weekend, and used the opportunity to remind the world of his prowess by setting the day's fastest time.

Friday is notoriously a dangerous day on which to form hard and fast opinions, the more so at this desert venue where sand blowing on to the track can create misleading conditions, but Wurz's performance was a fillip for a team who have a great car but are seen by some to be teetering on the edge of self-destruction.

On the same day as Montoya's so-called "tennis accident", which resulted in the shoulder injury that has kept him out of the race, there were scares that his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen might also be out of action after reports reaching his team boss Martin Whitmarsh allegedly suggested that the Finn had hurt himself in a fall at a party. These proved wide of the mark, however, and on the day on which the lead drivers in those teams which run three cars tend to conserve their equipment, Raikkonen ended his day only eighth fastest.

Besides the question of whether McLaren can unlock the potential of their MP4/20, which was a match for the all-conquering Renault during pre-season winter testing, the other talking point was the arrival of Ferrari's new car following Schumacher's disappointing races in Australia and Malaysia. The champion was satisfied with fifth-quickest yesterday, behind the series leader Fernando Alonso, the Red Bull upstart Vitantonio Liuzzi and Montoya's stand-in, Pedro de la Rosa.

"It was really nice to be driving the new car for the first time at a race meeting," Schumacher said. "It felt very good. We ran through our entire planned programme and everything went very smoothly. I did enough laps to have a good idea in which direction to work. It was a pleasing debut for the new car and an encouraging start to the weekend."

Not so encouraging, however, was a gearbox problem which kept his team-mate Rubens Barrichello on ice. Ferrari have so few spares for their new car that the transmission had to be repaired overnight. Normally it would simply have been replaced.

"I have no worries," said Alonso. "The car balance was pretty good and we seemed quite quick. Always Ferrari are very strong, and they are one of the favourites, and for sure they have got their new car and they will be more competitive than they were in the last race. But Renault won the first two races of the season and we are now the team to beat. It is not for us to beat the others. And last year I think that Ferrari did not have a bad car. They key to beating them is not just the car."

Ferrari's tyre supplier, Bridgestone, have brought different tyres here in the hope of challenging the dominance of Michelin, but it will not be until qualifying today that the value of their labour will become apparent.

Sir Jackie Stewart has accused factions within the British Racing Drivers' Club of underhand dealings and is resisting calls for him to stand down as the club's president.

"I have been asked to do that by co-ordinators of an incredibly badly worded straw poll sent to a certain number of people," the former champion said in Bahrain yesterday.

"Actually, as president I stand for membership election every year. What they really want is for the president not to be a board member, and that has been in the club's rules for 76 years. I think there is dirty work going on at the crossroads, a lot of it in my opinion unethical, but if I am asked by the members to stand down, then of course I will. But until then I have no intention of changing my role within the club."

BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX (Sakhir) Second practice: 1 A Wurz (Aut) McLaren-Mercedes 1min 30.695sec; 2 F Alonso (Spa) Renault 1:31.969; 3 V Liuzzi (Ita) Red Bull-Cosworth 1:32.319; 4 P de la Rosa (Spa) McLaren-Mercedes 1:32.333; 5 M Schumacher (Ger) Ferrari 1:32.431; 6 J Trulli (Ita) Toyota 1:32.595; 7 G Fisichella (Ita) Renault 1:32.708; 8 K Raikkonen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes 1:32.968; 9 J Button (GBR) BAR-Honda 1:33.037; 10 R Schumacher (Ger) Toyota 1:33.077; 11 N Heidfeld (Ger) Williams-BMW 1:33.152; 12 T Sato (Jap) BAR-Honda 1:33.205; 13 C Klien (Aut) Red Bull-Cosworth 1:33.436; 14 R Zonta (Br) Toyota 1:33.433; 15 M Webber (Aus) Williams-BMW 1:33.563; 16 D Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull-Cosworth 1:33.708; 17 F Massa (Br) Sauber-Petronas 1:33.726; 18 N Karthikeyan (Ind) Jordan-Toyota 1:33.981; 19 R Doornbas (Mon) Jordan-Toyota 1:34.222; 20 J Villeneuve (Can) Sauber-Petronas 1:34.300; 21 T Monteiro (Por) Jordan-Toyota 1:34.727; 22 P Friesacher (Aut) Minardi-Cosworth 1:35.325; 23 C Albers (Neth) Minardi-Cosworth 1:36.094; Not Classified: R Barrichello (Br) Ferrari.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
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

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum