Sauber’s Felipe Nasr went quickest on day three of Formula One’s first pre-season test, the Brazilian finishing two tenths clear of Kimi Raikkonen, who was making his first appearance of 2015 for Ferrari.
Brazilian Nasr set a best lap of 1:21.545 on soft tyres to eclipse the previous best of Raikkonen, who had recorded his best time on medium tyres.
On a day when early morning rain left the track greasy and of little real value for the first two hours of the session, Nasr racked up an impressive 108 laps in the process but it was Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg who once again put in the biggest total.
On day one of the test the German posted a huge total of 157 laps and he almost matched the tally today with 151 laps of the 4.4km circuit. The Rosberg’s morning outing also included a race sim. By just after midday he had already posted a total of 76 laps.
The 2014 title runner-up’s day was not without problems however. Just before 1pm his Mercedes W06 suffered an engine shutdown and the red flag appeared. The problem didn’t halt Rosberg for long and by 2pm he was circulating again, eventually ending the day with the third fastest laps, a 1:21.982 to finish just under half a second adrift of Nasr.
Rosberg’s wasn’t the only technical issue of the day. Following a difficult day yesterday in which it was forced to run without a front wing following an off from Daniil Kvyat early in the session, there was more frustration for Red Bull Racing today, as after just five lap in the morning a power unit issue forced Daniel Ricciardo back to the garage where the team had to change the Renault powerplant.
Ricciardo finally got back out in the afternoon and put together a number of longer runs, which he said had given him a better feeling for the car.
“Although we were limited with running today the last hour was good, we got some long runs together and that was encouraging,” he said.
“I was happy to do some 10-15 lap runs as that’s always where you get a better understanding of the car. Every lap we do we understand something more about the car or the driveablility of the Renault power unit. So it was a decent afternoon.”
In the morning Honda-powered McLaren enjoyed its best period of the test so far, with Fernando Alonso putting in 32 laps, more than two and a half times the total number of laps achieved over the first two days.
However, at lunchtime the team confirmed that a water pressure problem had been discovered and that the MP4-30 would not be running in the afternoon.
At Williams, Felipe Massa made his first appearance behind the wheel of the FW37 and the Brazilian made it through 71 largely untroubled laps to eventually finish fourth on the timesheet.
Behind him Pastor Maldonado was back behind the wheel of the Lotus E23. A telemetry problem kept the Venezuelan in the garage for some time in the morning but he eventually put 96 laps on the board only for a mechanical failure to halt him in the final minutes of the session.
Carlos Sainz Jr put in the second highest lap total of the day with 136 tours in the STR10, the Spaniard enjoying a much more profitable outing than his first day in which a series of mechanical niggles interrupted his running.