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Rosberg roars in practice again

GERMANY'S Nico Rosberg, who has yet to transform his practice pace into anything higher than sixth place in a race this season, put Williams on top of the timesheets at the Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday.

Rosberg, son of 1982 champion Keke, lapped the Sakhir circuit in a time of one minute 33.339 seconds. The German has now been quickest in seven of the 11 practice sessions this year. Renault's double world champion Fernando Alonso was second fastest in the afternoon.

Current champion Lewis Hamilton had earlier shrugged off the troubles surrounding his McLaren team to clock the quickest time in the morning. The Briton, whose team risks heavy sanctions at a hearing in Paris next week after a storm over lying to stewards at the Australian season-opener, lapped in 1:33.647.

McLaren has written to the Formula One's governing body to apologize for misleading stewards.

Only Rosberg, Alonso and Toyota's Jarno Trulli went faster in the afternoon. Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel was fourth fastest in the second session ahead of Australian teammate Mark Webber and Brawn GP's championship leader Jenson Button.

BMW-Sauber had filled second and third place on a hot and overcast morning with Germany's Nick Heidfeld ahead of Poland's Robert Kubica.

The top three cars in that session were all equipped with the new KERS energy recovery system, that offers drivers an extra boost of power at the push of a button, at a circuit where it is expected to be a real advantage.

Button, who won the first two races of the season, is seen as a favorite to top the podium with the Brawn likely to be more competitive in the hot conditions.

Mercedes-powered McLaren, which warned at the start of the season that its car was still some way off becoming a winner, has brought new developments to Bahrain in an effort to close the gap at the top.

"We have a few modifications for the floor, hopefully a little bit more downforce, but nothing dramatic," said Kovalainen, whose teammate has been kept well away from the media since arriving in Bahrain. "There is nothing major at this race. I think the next big package should be in Spain."

Ferrari's Felipe Massa was 16th in afternoon practice and teammate Kimi Raikkonen 18th.

The team will be desperate to avoid going pointless again in this race and creating a team record for its worst ever start to an F1 season.


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