Bahrain Grand Prix FP2 analysis

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There's not much to choose between the two McLaren drivers so far
There's not much to choose between the two McLaren drivers so far

The second practice session at Bahrain brought further evidence of Ferrari’s long-run pace but Mercedes and McLaren are up there with the on one-lap performance.

We look set for an entertaining qualifying session tomorrow. Here’s how all the teams got on in second practice today:

McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari

FP2 times: McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull
FP2 times: McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull

The McLaren and Mercedes drivers set their fastest times on qualifying simulations, as did Felipe Massa. But it looks like Alonso hasn’t shown his hand yet with a low-fuel run.

Massa’s long run looks good compared with those of the McLaren drivers:

LapFelipe MassaJenson ButtonLewis Hamilton

Early in the session Hamilton aborted one run on the medium tyres having quickly destroyed them – a problem with tyre allocations so tightly restricted this year.

Mercedes one-lap pace looks promising, at least in the hands of Nico Rosberg. Although Michael Schumacher admitted afterwards to being “rusty”, his long-run pace compares favourable with Rosberg’s.

Red Bull, however, lost a lot of running the afternoon changing Mark Webber’s driveshaft and Sebastian Vettel’s brakes – the latter losing his car under braking for the final corner early in the session.

Williams, Force India, Renault, Toro Rosso and Sauber

FP2 times: Williams, Renault, Force India, Toro Rosso, Sauber
FP2 times: Williams, Renault, Force India, Toro Rosso, Sauber

Although Force India topped the times in the first sector it was the VJM03’s pace over long runs that Vitantonio Liuzzi praised following the second session. He felt the car’s one-lap performance wasn’t quite there yet. Both his and Sutil’s long runs looked very consistent.

Sauber showed better pace than they did in the morning but Pedro de la Rosa complained of poor grip and described the turn seven bump as “dangerous”. Kamui Kobayashi suffered a puncture and had to curtail one of his runs.

Rubens Barrichello lost early running due to an electrical problem and finished both sessions almost one second slower than new team mate Nico H???lkenberg. H???lkenberg also looked quicker on his nine-lap stint than Barrichello did on his ten-lapper – of course we don’t know whether they were running the same fuel loads.

Renault said they were happy with the stability of their car under braking. As is to be expected Vitaly Petrov looks some way of Robert Kubica’s pace.

Jaime Alguersuari described the new section of track as “nothing special and very slow” – perhaps that was his revenge for being caught out by the complex where he spun in FP2. Team mate Buemi missed the entire session (apart from a single installation lap) due to car trouble.

Lotus, Virgin and HRT

FP2 Times: Lotus, Virgin, HRT
FP2 Times: Lotus, Virgin, HRT

Bruno Senna logged 17 laps in the HRT and by the end of the session he’d finally managed to beat the best time set during the GP2 Asia practice session.

Worryingly, wheel nut failure brought his car to a halt at the first corner at the end of the session. Team mate Karun Chandhok didn’t do a lap at all despite hopes he would be out during FP2. He has just one hour to complete his first lap in the car before qualifying tomorrow.

Virgin were almost a second off Lotus’s pace in the second session but neither of their cars did low-fuel running and Timo Glock hasn’t tried the super-soft tyres yet.

Top 50 lap times

The top 50 times set during the session:

RankDriverLap timeLap

Nico Rosberg115.4095

Nico Rosberg115.5552

Lewis Hamilton115.8547

Michael Schumacher115.8547

Lewis Hamilton116.0512

Michael Schumacher116.0512

Jenson Button116.0768

Sebastian Vettel116.4596

Nico H???lkenberg116.50117

Jenson Button116.5164

Felipe Massa116.55527

Vitaly Petrov116.7510

Nico H???lkenberg116.7992

Felipe Massa116.8129

Sebastian Vettel116.9243

Jenson Button116.9442

Vitaly Petrov117.05311

Fernando Alonso117.1424

Pedro de la Rosa117.25517

Pedro de la Rosa117.28716

Kamui Kobyashi117.35217

Adrian Sutil117.3617

Fernando Alonso117.41522

Rubens Barrichello117.45218

Rubens Barrichello117.4552

Kamui Kobyashi117.66116

Adrian Sutil117.7064

Vitaly Petrov117.71112

Vitantonio Liuzzi117.8337

Adrian Sutil117.8582

Fernando Alonso118.01319

Robert Kubica118.15525

Vitaly Petrov118.2146

Robert Kubica118.22627

Vitantonio Liuzzi118.3648

Vitaly Petrov118.4297

Vitantonio Liuzzi118.5332

Vitaly Petrov118.9524

Pedro de la Rosa119.07513

Fernando Alonso119.08710

Vitantonio Liuzzi119.3053

Rubens Barrichello119.30520

Pedro de la Rosa119.49512

Robert Kubica119.5416

Jenson Button119.5447

Vitantonio Liuzzi119.5814

Fernando Alonso119.72411

Jaime Alguersuari119.7999

Robert Kubica119.82614

Fernando Alonso119.8753

Fastest laps

Extended data on the times set by all the drivers.

Pos.DriverCarFastestOnGapWithin 1%Laps
1Nico RosbergMercedes1’55.40950223
2Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’55.85470.445222
3Michael SchumacherMercedes1’55.90360.494323
4Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’56.07680.667328
5Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’56.45961.05218
6Nico H???lkenbergWilliams-Cosworth1’56.501171.092226
7Felipe MassaFerrari1’56.555271.146230
8Vitaly PetrovRenault1’56.750101.341326
9Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’57.140241.731325
10Pedro de la RosaSauber-Ferrari1’57.255171.846224
11Kamui KobyashiSauber-Ferrari1’57.352171.943227
12Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’57.36171.952329
13Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth1’57.452182.043221
14Vitantonio LiuzziForce India-Mercedes1’57.83372.424329
15Robert KubicaRenault1’58.155252.746229
16Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’59.79994.39331
17Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault2’00.44465.035812
18Heikki KovalainenLotus-Cosworth2’00.873215.464223
19Jarno TrulliLotus-Cosworth2’00.990135.581114
20Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth2’02.03726.62813
21Lucas di GrassiVirgin-Cosworth2’02.18866.779221
22Bruno SennaHRT-Cosworth2’06.9681611.559217
23Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari7’11.0001315.59111
24Karun ChandhokHRT-Cosworth

NB. ‘Within 1%’ refers to the number of times a driver set a lap time that was within 1% of his best.

Analysing practice

This is a new series of articles analysing the lap times from practice. If you have any suggestions for improvements or changes you would like to see, please post them in the comments.

Predict the pole sitter and top five finishers in the Bahrain Grand Prix for your chance to win F1 tickets, DVDs, books and more

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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66 comments on “Bahrain Grand Prix FP2 analysis”

  1. great analysis!

  2. Matthew Edwards
    12th March 2010, 19:00

    Hi Keith! I’m new to your site but as an F1 fan for, erm, 40 years am delighted to have found it. I am particularly enjoying your fascinating and objective analysis of the practice sessions: top stuff.

    Looks like Ferrari then McLaren but looking after tyres will be crucial.



    1. Yeah, I have a confession to make too. Younger generation here though. I’ve been lurking here for about 2 years and never dropped a single line, so I feel I should contribute a bit more than that. I’m simply in awe of what you’ve created, Keith. So much effort put into the site, yet it’s still growing. Truly a beautiful place to visit…

      1. Always glad to hear from long-timers who haven’t commented before. Glad you’re enjoying the site Pakelika!

      2. Clever and dedicated chap he certainly is. Have everything crossed for him that his bravery in doing this full time brings him, if not wild riches, at least a decent return on his love for this sport. Well done for stepping forward and hi!

        1. Very well said, one has to realise just how driven by his passion this hell of a true gentleman is. Words fail me, honestly. Additionally, the fact that younger generation can mix some thoughts here with lads like Matthew above is just fantastic to me. As for the new season… Logical as it is, the fact that podium has only three steps, this year, brings a silly smile to my face like never before…

    2. Good to see another fan of 40 years!

  3. Fantastic stuff, Keith.

  4. ‘As is to be expected Vitaly Petrov looks some way of Robert Kubica’s pace.’

    I don’t quite get that to be honest.

  5. Do not think Hamilton will whip Button. Button is no slouch, 2009 proves that. Afterall Rubens Barichello, Seb Vettel and Mark Webber all had title winning cars but none of them could beat Button.
    As much as I hate to say it, but Hamliton threw his first chance away in 2007, whereas Button took his chance and the Mclaren drive this year is his award. I wouldn’y be surprised if a proven world champion driver was humiliated this year by his teammate, but that driver won’t be Button.
    Keith’s charts show it’s really close and it should be by Abu Dhabi.

  6. Interesting that Alonso’s early laps are better than the later in the same stint. Graining?

    1. Noticed that too. Looks like he cooked the tires. Button shows similar data. Massa and the Mercedes look very very consistent. And what’s going on with Lucious Liz? All over the place.


    it shows just how dangerous such a slow car can be :)

    1. Good ilustration!

      1. My favourite description of that car was on the 5 live commentary: “It’s like going out onto the motorway on a mobility scooter!”

        I really feel for bruno though, think what might have happened if he was given the brawn seat last year…
        Hopefully he’ll get picked up by a faster team for next year.

    2. I think it only shows that the only danger consists of drivers failing to properly put someone a lap down. You’d think Senna, Prost or “the old” Schumacher would’ve taken care of that HRT with way less fuss about it.

      And don’t come with “modern drivers aren’t so bad” – I fully know that, but I only wanted to point out that the slow cars alone aren’t the threat

  8. Good analysis, no one else is doing this.
    We still dont know how much fuel is onboard. Too close to call. Roll on the race about 3/4 way through to gauge early season form.

    1. Tomorrow the teams will finally test low-fuel/qualifying set-ups, so the best times in practice no. 3 will answer many questions.

  9. Scarily clever graph. What it does illustrate is teams unwillingness to run their drivers on opposite strategies in testing at this early part of the season, which is in itself quite strange.

    Yes, running both your drivers with similiar fuel during the same period does give a consistant baseline for each driver (and is probably better to keep the peace between drivers), but better sharing of information across the garage at this early stage could provide quicker setup direction for both drivers which could be better honed individually later in the FP sessions.

    Truth be told, FiA’s testing prohibition is hurtful to the teams dev and gives us a weaker grid at the start of the season than we would like. The unknowns, whilst shaking things up, waters down the performance of these amazing machines and drivers.

    In season testing might give Ferrari or McLaren a chance to improve by 6 tenths, but if HRT or Lotus could freely test in season as well, they would improve by seconds, not tenths and any concerns about 107% rules would be gone by mid-season.

  10. Here’s my quick take on the practice sessions:

    It looks like McLaren and Mercedes have faster pace, but Ferrari may end up winning races by being more consistent over race distance.

    My prediction, therefore, is that Hamilton is on pole, with Button, Schumacher, and Vettel rounding out the top four (in some order). Massa and Alonso on the third or fourth row. I think Rosberg won’t qualify as well and will also be in the third/fourth row.

    Race win to Massa or Alonso, with McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull rounding out the top 5 spots.

    I can’t wait for Qualifying and the Race.

  11. Some time ago Ron Dennis Said the cheapest way to develop a car was testing.

    I tend to agree with that as of today’s standards in terms of cost of technology. But on the other hand, during the late 80’s and early 90’s the spreads between 1st and 3rd places was an amazing 2 seconds per lap!!!

    I think that limiting the testing days, windtunnel time, and number of engines per car have been great ways to keep the entertaintment value of the sport. No one would like to see another ’88, ’89, ’92 or 2004 in the formula 1.

    Yes, we can’t see the very best of autosport at it’s full potential, but we can see some racing.

    1. The general evolutionary trend in F1 has seen the time gaps between cars get smaller and smaller. This trend pretty much goes all the way back through F1 history. Recently there have been anomalies due to significant rule changes particularly (if you’re looking at qualifying times) those that required cars to qualify on a single lap carrying race fuel. But as I said these are anomalies and the general trend for increasing competitiveness continues. The cause of this trend is affected by a lot of things but I’m not sure how much difference cost saving rules such as the ones you mentioned would make. I think mainly it is to do with the tightening of the rules and increasingly greater technological expertise. An example of this are the high standards of reliability we see today.

  12. wonder if it wasn’t a good solution to let the new teams skip some races so they can test on their own and then compete…

    HRT speacially… 11 seconds off the pace… they will be lapped once every 9 laps (and with such a tricky car to drive, i would say they’ll get lapped once every 7 laps).

    HRT knoew nothing about the car, the tyres, the long runs, the reliability… is it really worth it to go racing like that?… surely it must be better for both the F1 and HRT to let them test a bit more?

    1. 100% agree. They’ll be some sponsorship clause or something getting in the way I reckon, because I’m sure all the other teams would vote 100% to allow them to test and then start at Melbourne.

      Lotus and Virgin have had structural failures in testing which they put right. It’s just needlessly endangering the other drivers and their own.

      1. Contractual obligations and all that…

        Still it would make more sense and they could probably find a solution if there were contractual obligations in the way.

    2. HRT won’t stay on track long enough to get lapped more than once or twice.

      I expect they won’t get past the first round of pit stops.

  13. Hard to judge the long runs IMHO. Just how long is a ‘long’ run? Could be anything from 15 to 50 laps of fuel.

  14. “Although Michael Schumacher admitted afterwards to being “rusty”, his long-run pace compares favourable with Rosberg’s.”

    I don’t believe that for one second, he felt like a child two days ago, a set up break through during testing gave him confidence.

    because he hasn’t got a spare car and all the tyres in the world to use he isn’t on top form right now.

    He’s getting beating by his team mate so far and because thats never happened before its messing with his confidence, saying he’s rusty is typical racer excuse.

    1. We are talking about him being beaten by the World Champion of Free Practice in a practice session, though ;)

  15. Anywhere to get speed trap info from?

    I know Hamilton with his fancy stalling blown rear wing was fastest but I’d like to see everyone’s results.

  16. Nice analysis, will help me to make my mind up for my predictions!!

  17. Guys, if the Mclarens rear wing stalling system is driver operated (knee flap in the cockpit), why did the FIA passed it legal?

    1. There’s still a lot of speculation about it but basically from what I’ve read the driver operating it is the reason it’s slipped through a loop hole, because you’re not allowed to have moving aero parts the driver being the moving part gets around that.

      1. Having said that you can now have an adjustable front wing.

    2. Because it is not a moving part of the car!

    3. Because the driver is not included as a ‘movable aerodynamic device’

      It’s just very clever. The snorkel airflow seems to act as a switch that directs *even more* airflow (see vertical stacked airbox intake) to be directed to stall the wing.

      It’s exacltly why F1 is not just a faster GP2.

      1. Or slower as in the case of HRT.

  18. Superb stuff Keith. Congratulations. I bet all drivers read You. When will u launch iphone app?

  19. Thank you Keith.

    Cool to see the lap chart. It’s really helpful. The headline times aren’t as useful any more with 5 second a lap time variance.

    you said: “If you have any suggestions for improvements or changes you would like to see, please post them in the comments.”

    It’s very good already, but the graph of my fantasys (…and I appreciate this is hard, and would take a lot of effort) would be an interactive Flash/Java based graph. I think some good features would be:

    -To have every driver on one graph, and have the ability to display or hide their lap times with tick boxes.
    -To be able to slide the lap times done by a driver to the left or right so that you can super impose the lap times of 2 drivers.
    -To have some way to see who was faster over a stint. Maybe Hamilton did the fastest lap in a stint, but maybe Button did the stint in less time. It’s very hard to tell that conclusively from a graph. Maybe there could be a feature where you could select part of the graph and it could tell you the total time taken to do those laps.

    …Anyway keep up the good work. :-)

    1. -To have every driver on one graph, and have the ability to display or hide their lap times with tick boxes.

      -To be able to slide the lap times done by a driver to the left or right so that you can super impose the lap times of 2 drivers.

      Thanks for the ideas – someone suggested similar ones earlier. They’re great ideas but I’ve no idea how to do them. If someone can explain how I’d be happy to try it.

      1. Nick Someone
        13th March 2010, 2:44


        I spent a little time looking into this for you. I have found a website which you can use to generate charts with several useful features. The website is:

        with it you can:

        -enter CSV data (which you can get out of any spreadsheet prog).
        -create a graph of any dimensions.
        -check and uncheck tick boxes to hide the line graph of a driver(s) times.
        -zoom in and out to sections of the graph.
        -enter times in seconds and have the graph display them in the HH:mm:ss format.

        It’s basically an online Flash application that gives you an XML/HTML file. You’ll be able to embed the charts in this site, and it’s free although there is a link to the site in the top left corner of the charts it generates.

        Here’s a direct link to the bit of the site you’ll want to use:

        Click on the CSV “Data tab” and enter your session data. If the driver is pitted, don’t enter a value and it will make a gap in the graph line.

        When you have finished click on the “HTML” tab, click “Copy to clipboard”.
        you can then paste in the code to this site or wherever you want.

        I hope you find this helpful. I found a lit of other similar sites here:


        1. Thanks for the tip Nick – am trying it out but having a couple of problem so if you have any experience of using them and can help please drop me a line.

  20. I think Fred has shown his hand. His ow fuel, end of session, clean-track times in both sessions were nothing special. He is faster than Massa with fuel, possibly, but sautees his tires.

    Relative to other teams, looking at both sessions, I see Mercedes and McLaren having a marked advantage in single-lap performance over Ferrari—and fat chance passing a McLaren in the race with their captured alien technology rear wings. Nonetheless, it seems that they will not be able to pull away from the red cars.

    Sebastian and Liz have not hit it off. Schade.

    1. Early days. Look how their season transformed at Silverstone last year.

  21. I don’t think that Lewis was doing qualifying laps

  22. I can’t understand the problem that people seem to have with Maclarens f-duct. To me F1 is half about the technology and half about the racing and it is this that makes it stand out above most other motorsports. Unfortunately the days of radical concepts like the Fan Car and 6 wheelers are long gone it is heartening to see Engineers pushing the envelope with ingenious designs like the F-duct. The whole point of having teams develop their own cars is surely to let engineers get around the rules otherwise they might as well have one car for all… I thought the double diffusers were fine last year and the f-duct is fine this year. It seems to me that the other teams are just infuriated that they did not think of it themselves.

    1. Quite right. F1 is about improvement. Rules base is so tight these days, that improvement hardly seems possible, but innovation, even if it is just Buttilton’s left foot getting stuffed in a hole, should be applauded. Saddest part is that F1 rules are so thorough, that it takes something so prosaic to make a difference.

      Round of applause to you and the mysterious McLaren employ involved (even if he is just the Woking air-con plant engineer).

      1. Buttilton? lol

      2. Yes, but there are rules and there’s a spirit to the rules which McLaren always seem to want to circumvent. I welcome innovation but the rules should relaxed in that case so that all teams are clear as to what they can do or not.

        This not so in the case of this duct and blown wing. The way I see it, the point of the ‘no movable aero part apart from front wing’ idea is that air flow from any part should be a constant and or non-manipulatable. Clearly, McLaren are going against the spirit of that rule here. They might as well change the rules to allow for mechanically adjustable rear wings now as that is in effect what this duct is about.

        1. The concept of adhering to the “Spirit of the Rules” was tested last year by Toyota Williams & Brawn with the “Double Diffuser” issue and was found not to be enforceable – so as in Law a precedent has been set and the bench mark is now “The Letter of The Law” – as it should now we can unshackle the innovative minds of some of the genius’ who walk the corridors of F1 Paddock. :)

        2. There is no spirit of the rules in F1 and there never has been. Ferrari were running illegal parts which kicked of spygate (and to be honest were outright illegal and designed to pull the wool of over the eyes of the fia), renault had their special dampers, brawn, williams and toyota had their duffusers etc etc etc, some are illegal and some are just clever ways of bypassing the rules (remember Ferrari have been instrumental in bending the spirit of the rules with engine upgrades). When teams claim that another team is not abiding by the spirit of the rues it is effectively code for “damn we have been out thought and now we are buggered, lets see if we can kick up enough fuss to get the rules changed AGAIN and save ourselves”. The rules are the rules and that means that if something breaks the rules then it should be banned but also if it does not break the rules it should be allowed, if they don’t want the spirit of the rules broken then just make teams have the same design (but then it would not really be f1 would it?).

          To be honest I really wish the rules were relaxed a lot more. Just set some safety rules and some size restrictions etc and then let the engineers do their stuff to make the greatest race machines ever created for the greatest drivers to drive.

  23. Great graphics Keith, congratulations!
    One sugestion, the colors of MacLaren and Ferrari´s drivers, I suppose orange and red, are too close. I had problems to distinguish the performance of the drivers with my video´s resolution.

  24. Good discussion going there over the Mclaren rear wing guys. I see where you are coming from when you say that the driver isnt a moving aero device. But that is really besides the point. The bottom line is that the rear wing would never stall at high speeds, BUT by an action performed consciously by the driver with the clear intent of causing it to stall. Whether its the knees closing a flap, elbow pressing a button, or whatever it does not matter. If the system was totally independent from driver input, I would not have a problem with it. I am all for technical development, in fact its one aspect of the sport I love the most. But this, in my view is clear breach of the rules.

    1. Remember Mclaren’s 4th pedal in 1998?

      It was clever mechanical device acting as TCS. Operated by the driver, not electronic… declared illegal by the FIA.

      I my opinion, both solutions are ingenious and very well deserved praise, not to be frowned at… If it weren’t by this sort of creativity, we could be, very well riding horses these days. F1 should embrace cleverness and tonge-on-the-cheek engineering.

  25. Is anyone else getting the feeling that pole position winners won’t win too many races this year? I’m thinking that Lewis or Vettel will get pole, but Ferrari will beat them on long run pace.

    1. I think that will be the case tomorrow. Last years pole didn’t win either though if you recall. I believe as the season progresses things will change and pole will be a good place to start from.
      With no real knowledge of fuel loads and such I still believe that Ferrari are much quicker than they appear over a single lap. And as far as the race goes, they seem to have much better pace lap after lap. I expect a Ferrari 1-2 tomorrow regardless of where they qualify. Now I wish I could go back and change my vote for the finish.
      I hope zie Germans get spectacular tomorrow however! Go Schumacher and Vettel!

  26. Would be nice if an indication of which tyre each driver is on in the analysis and with any given lap time.
    Might help some to work out what’s going on.

    1. still think poleman has a great chance on sunday round bahrain not much overtaking but can see incidents!! cant wait see where everyone is tomorrow and the excuses to follow..

      1. Incidents? Do you mean you wonder how many parts will fall off of the three new teams=)

        1. well yes can imagine some carbon flying around at high speed although obviously not HRT can they do high speed? was mainly thinking first corner ambitions exceeding grip maybe michael!

  27. Hey Keith sorry to be a pain but do you think in the future you could make the Mclaren and Ferrari colors just a little bit more different. They are really similar and I have a bit of trouble distinguishing them. Fantastic Analysis as always.

  28. I loved the new charts showing the lap times of the drivers during the session. Great way to compare them.

    Unfortunately we don’t have a clue what they were doing though. Even mnore so now than in previous years. They could be trying qualy simulation, a run on full fuel or maybe on half fuel. The difference in laptimes could be vast.

    So even if you look at a “long run” there could for instance be a 70kg fuel difference if they are trying out a run after simulating a mid race tyre change vs a race start simulation on a tank completely filled up.

    This also makes the 1% chart a bit suspect. Drivers who do a qualy simulation will come off looking a lot worse than ones who don’t.

    There is just no way of knowing if they are close to the limit of the car and the car is simply performing less (heavier, different tyres) or if the it’s the driver.

    Still, it’s all we have and you certainly make the most of it :)

  29. Force India look very strong. Their qualifying and race pace are not far off Ferrari’s. Fuel variables do apply, yet looks impressive. Have a feeling Sutil might be the dark horse.

  30. F1 on BBC

    Not sure if its common knowledge but people with freeview (most of us!) go to 301 and you can now watch free practice on TV third practice starts today at 7:55 on there…

  31. fabio pellim
    13th March 2010, 7:29

    Kudos Keith! Great graphics…

Comments are closed.