Bahrain Test II Day 4: Hamilton fastest… next stop Melbourne!

Lewis Hamilton ended Bahrain testing on a high

Lewis Hamilton ended Bahrain testing on a high

Lewis Hamilton powered to top spot on the timing screens to end the final day of Formula 1 preseason testing fastest of all at Bahrain International Circuit, and with it bringing an end to a very successful preseason for Mercedes.

Hamilton’s big lap came late in the day, which was packed with stoppages with no fewer than eight interruptions to retrieve stranded cars – and was only fractionally slower than Felipe Massa’s best lap time, of all eight days in Bahrain, set 24 hours earlier. But the Silver Arrows outfit would probably have wanted a few more than 70 laps on their chart.

Williams were again impressive with Valterri Bottas second fastest, and with 108 laps to his credit the Grove based outfit leave Bahrain on a high, and emphasising the fact that Mercedes power units currently have the edge.

Valtteri Bottas Williams FW36

Valtteri Bottas Williams FW36

Fernando Alonso was third fastest in the Ferrari, his day also curtailed by long a spell in the garage to change a gearbox. He managed 74 laps in total. His best time of 1:34.280 was the fastest that the F14T had gone around Sakhir during the eight days of testing in the island kingdom.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Jean Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso also completed 74 laps, finishing fourth and fifth respectively on the timing sheets. Vergne fastest of the Renault powered contingent.

Sauber completed a huge 177 laps on the day with Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez sharing the cockpit on the day, an enormous achievement and 40 laps more than any team managed on a single day during the 12 days of testing. Sutil was sixth fastest, and Gutierrez eighth best.

Fernando Alonso Ferrari F14 T

Fernando Alonso Ferrari F14 T

Splitting the Sauber duo on the time sheets was fellow Ferrari powered driver Max Chilton in the Marussia, who ticked off 86 laps on what was one of the better days of testing.

Ninth fastest was reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel who suffered brake failure, which caused the problematic Red Bull RB10 to spin. Despite this and ongoing niggles the German enjoyed his most productive day of testing  with 77 laps to his credit, but over four seconds down on Hamilton’s top time.

McLaren endured  nightmarish final day of testing as the hitherto bullet proof MP4-29 was struck by problems which curtailed Jenson Button’s track time to a mere 21 laps. The team reported a high-mileage internal combustion engine failure which required an engine change, and later  any further attempts to run were stopped by a control electronics problem.

Nico Hulkenberg Force India VJM07

Nico Hulkenberg Force India VJM07

Caterham finally got out of the GP2 lap time zone with Kamui Kobayashi managing 106 laps in the process.

The dubious honour of being slowest on the final day of testing went to Romain Grosjean in the Lotus E22, and a fire further exacerbating the situation for the team who completed the least preseason testing mileage of all teams. Grosjean goes to Melbourne with less than 100 laps to his credit during his six days in the cockpit.

Thus ended a drama packed Formula 1 preseason, the next episode being the real deal when engines fireup in anger for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne – bring it on!

Bahrain Test II, Day 4 Lap Times – Saturday, 2 March

P Drivers Teams Times Gap laps
1 L.Hamilton Mercedes 1.33.278 70
2 V.Bottas Williams 1.33.987 +0.709 108
3 F.Alonso Ferrari 1.34.280 +1.002 74
4 N.Hulkenberg Force India 1.35.577 +2.299 74
5 J-E.Vergne Toro Rosso 1.35.701 +2.423 74
6 A.Sutil Sauber 1.36.467 +3.189 91
7 M.Chilton Marussia 1.36.835 +3.557 61
8 E.Gutierrez Sauber 1.37.303 +4.025 86
9 S.Vettel Red Bull 1.37.468 +4.190 77
10 J.Button McLaren 1.38.111 +4.833 21
11 K.Kobayashi Caterham 1.38.391 +5.113 106
12 R.Grosjean Lotus 1.39.302 +6.024 32
Stoppages:
Drivers Teams Red  Green
1 S.Vettel Red Bull 10h02 10h17
2 R.Grosjean Lotus 10h56 11h00
3 J.Button McLaren 11h39 11h54
4 R.Grosjean Lotus 12h36 12h49
5 N.Hulkenberg Force India 13h58 14h08
6 F.Alonso Ferrari 14h09 14h23
7 V.Bottas Williams 14h59 15h07
8 E.Gutierrez Sauber 15h37 15h45
  • gracias

    The deadbull’s have to do a lot of work ahead of Australia..7 secs off pace is not good for them..I think its due to their aerodynamic package

  • KevinW

    Be prepared for a Red Bull surprise in Australia. It is very likely knew that they had no chance to get the RB10 finished for testing, so have been running a test mule as they build the actual RB10 race cars back at Milton Keynes in parallel. They have been running a program to collect data and expose problems, so lap times are irrelevant. Granted they had hoped to turn more laps. However, its likely what we have seen so far is not representative of their actual performance. Australia will be the first test of the actual RB10, and it is very likely to be very different from the test car(s) seen so far. Ferrari may also be holding a few cards up their sleeve.

  • karlich

    I thought the general consensus is that their aggressive aerodynamic packaging is not helping the Renault unit from overheating. The lack of pace is a general lack of power from the Renault units which has been estimated at around 165hp less than Mercedes by some. Much of that is from software issues. They’re also clearly behind on their testing schedule and probably didn’t have the opportunity to go for much of anything representing the true chassis performance. I’d be weary to write off Newey’s design talent just yet.

  • Marcus Parker

    They still dont have front camera mounts either

  • karlich

    Wish that was true. Wish it’d come true. Wish Melbourne was tomorrow, already miss following the time sheets and news feeds :-)

  • karlich

    At least Hamilton has got some praise for the RB10:

    “They look like they have a stunning car, and usually the more beautiful it is the faster it is so I’m sure they’ve got a pretty quick car this year…” continuing to say “Once they get the engine sorted, or the systems that they might be struggling with, I think they’ll – as always – be very hard to beat.”

    Fingers crossed then for the struggling beauty – speaking of which, wonder what name Vettel will give ‘er this year :-D

  • Nkoli

    We are going to witness Mercedes power battle between Merc, Williams and McLaren.

  • karlich

    Possibly Force India too. Gonna be fun! Got some great racers in those teams – some eager to prove themselves, some with sheer talent, some who’ve been “oppressed” for a while. Then we go the big question mark as to what Ferrari are up to and how the battle of their roosters unfolds. And then we have Formula Renault looking to join the big boy league :-D Good fun, good fun!

  • KevinW

    Dig through the images. While other cars have evolved, Red Bull has not in most areas, and are missing some bits. No front camera mounts, minimal rear aero parts around the exhaust, RB9 style diffuser in general, front wing has not changed from first test, most all of the changes tested are around the engine cover and a little at the side pods. They know the mechanical grip level from the RB9 will carry over, while their wind tunnel is one of the best correlated in F1. It seems apparent they have been focusing on PU integration and brakes exclusively, and little else on their agenda. It will be very interesting to see. Do they have a rabbit in the hat, or are they uncharacteristically that lost?

  • karlich

    Though I quite liked their various “duct taped protruding tube package” upgrades :-D Good to see some solid garage engineering again!