Lewis Hamilton marked his return to the Mercedes cockpit on day three of Bahrain Formula 1 pres-eason testing by going faster than anyone so far this week, and driving home the fact that Mercedes power has the edge for now with both McLaren and Williams faring well on the day.
Lap times continued to tumble with Hamilton’s best of 1.34.263 well over half a second up on the previous day’s best, on the Soft Pirelli tyres as opposed to the Super-soft used by Kevin Magnussen for his best time on Wednesday. Hamilton was also quickest with the Medium compounds, doing 1:34s with those bolted on.
A “small hydraulic problem” on the W05 cost the Briton track time, but he nevertheless managed 67 tours of the Sakhir circuit. The Silver Arrows appear to be top of the pecking order at this very early stage of the season.
Having said that, McLaren are also performing at the sharp end with Jenson Button amassing a whopping 103 laps in the apparently bullet proof MP4-29, ending the day 0.713 of a second down on former teammate Hamilton, and a mere 0.066 down on his current teammate’s best of 24 hours earlier.
Felipe Massa, who shared the Williams FW36 with Valterri Bottas, set the third best time of the day during the afternoon stint, managing 60 laps in the process but was 2.8 seconds down on Hamilton’s best. His teammate Bottas did 55 laps but none of them were timed.
Fourth fastest, with 96 laps to his credit, was Esteban Gutierrez in the Sauber C33, ahead of the works Ferrari with Kimi Raikkonen on duty for the first time this week.
The Finn was sixth fastest, his day compromised with telemetry issues which resulted in a relatively subdued day compared to teammate Alonso who was among the fastest during his two days on duty. Raikkonen only managed 44 laps during the course of the day.
Splitting the Ferarri powered duo was Sergio Perez in the Force India, who was fifth fastest and notched up 57 laps on his first day at the wheel of the VJM07 this week.
Rookie Daniil Kvyat was the most successful of the Renault powered gang, racking up 57 laps and the seventh best time, which was 4.7 seconds off the top pace.
The troubles at Lotus continued with Pastor Maldonado having his first official run for the team. Things started well, before problems struck. As a result he only managed 26 laps in the E22. On the bright side the Venezuelan was the first Renault powered driver to dip below 100 seconds around the grand prix venue on the day.
World Champions Red Bull were forced to wrap up their day early – an hour or so before the end of the day, they wheeled the RB10 into the garage and brought a premature end to Daniel Ricciardo’s first outing in Bahrain. He was eighth fastest, with 28 laps on the chart and 6.5 seconds down on the day’s best lap time.
Caterham continued to rack up impressive mileage, compared to their fellow Renault powered outfits, with rookie Marcus Ericsson managing 98 laps in the CT05, albeit 7.8 seconds off the pace.
It was a disappointing day for Max Chilton in the Ferrari powered Marussia. The team decided after four laps decided to change the engine, and were not seen out on track again during the course of the day.
The final day of the first of two F1 pre-season tests in Bahrain takes place tomorrow [Saturday]. (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.
Bahrain Test, Day 3 Lap Times – Friday, 21 February
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