On the penultimate day of Formula 1 pre-season testing, Felipe Massa took his Williams FW36 around the Bahrain International Circuit faster than any other car so far this year, but the big story of the day was Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s inability to complete a single lap.
Massa’s best lap of 1.33.258 was fractionally faster than Nico Rosberg’s best set on the final day of the previous test in Bahrain – the two slugging it out for top spot with some quick runs very late in the day.
The Brazilian said afterwards, “We had a very good day today, doing almost 100 laps. We did a lot more performance work in the car which is something that we haven’t done so much of so far. I’m really happy with the car and feel that we found a good balance.”
Williams look to have a handy package at their disposal as they notched up 99 hassle free laps, and Mercedes power units are the ‘PU’s’ to have as they appear to be ahead of the game.
This was emphasised by the fact that Rosberg ended the day second fastest in the Mercedes W05, less than a quarter second down on Massa and with 103 laps on his chart despite a late start to his day due to an engine change.
Amid this show of force by Mercedes power, the real news of the day was Sebastian Vettel’s troubled return to the cockpit of the Red Bull RB10, as the world champion twice embarked on a lap only to have to stop before he got around the Sakhir track.
Adding insult to injury on his second attempt at a lap the car did not make it out of the pitlane. Vettel hopped out of the cockpit and proceeded to help a marshal push the stricken RB10 back to the Red Bull garage. The car did not appear again and a zero on his lap chart sums up the story of his day. Full report here>>>
Kimi Raikkonen ended his final dayat the wheel of the Ferrari F14T third fastest, albeit over two seconds down on Massa’s best, with 87 laps to his credit.
Rookie Kevin Magnussen was fourth fastest in the McLaren MP4-29 with 88 laps completed.
Best of the Renault brigade was Daniil Kvyat in the Toro Rosso STR9, the rookie managing a useful 80 laps on his way to setting the fifth best time.
After two days of topping the timing screens with Sergio Perez at the wheel of the Force India, Nico Hulkenberg ended sixth fastest, but the slowest of the Mercedes posse but with 115 laps racked up in the VJM07.
Jules Bianchi in the Marussia was seventh fastest, ahead of rookie Marcus Ericsson who was the busiest driver on the day, with 117 laps to his credit, in the Caterham.
An electrical issue hampered progress at Lotus where Romain Grosjean was on duty in the E22. The Frenchman could go no quicker than the best GP2 car circulates around Sakhir, and with a mere 33 laps on his chart it was a disappointing day for the Enstone based outfit.
It was also a frustrating day for Adrian Sutil and Sauber who managed only one installation lap, before they disappeared into their garage – not to be seen again for the rest of the day.
Subbed by AJN.
Bahrain Test II, Day 3 Lap Times – Saturday, 1 March