Lewis Hamilton put Mercedes on top of an officially timed F1 session for the first time this year by setting fastest time on day three of the second pre-season winter test in Bahrain. The Englishman racked up a total of sixty seven laps to overcome some of the issues faced by his team yesterday.
Lotus experienced another tough day with Pastor Maldonado taking over from Romain Grosjean only to break down twice. The Venezuelan was left bewildered as his E22 coasted to a halt on circuit, the victim of gearbox and engine issues that combined to limit his running. Similarly Marussia could only muster four laps in the morning as engine complications left Max Chilton high and dry while his car was taken apart in the search for answers.
Ferrari similarly had a difficult session when telemetry problems kept Kimi Raikkonen in the garage for much of the morning, though once the problem as solved the Finn was soon up and running. The issue came hot on the heels of transponder faults that hampered team-mate Fernando Alonso yesterday.
Mercedes had another strong showing, Lewis Hamilton experiencing a flawless twenty two lap run to conclude his work in contrast to team-mate Rosberg’s woes yesterday, while Jenson Button celebrated his recent engagement to fiancee Jessica Michibata with a consistent day behind the wheel of the McLaren MP4/29. For the first time this year fellow Mercedes-powered team Force India found themselves wrestling with Sauber, the Swiss minnows having a stronger day than any this year thus far as Esteban Gutierrez mixed times with fellow Mexican Sergio Perez – though by his own admission Perez was focusing on long run duty in the afternoon when the track was at its fastest. However, things weren’t all rosy for Sauber as the team continued to struggle with braking problems generated by the brake-by-wire system they opted for in 2014.
Caterham had something to celebrate as Marcus Ericsson racked up enough laps to earn his F1 superlicence in time for the season-opener in Australia, while the team pushed on toward becoming the first Renault-powered squad to break a century of laps in a single day this season. It was not so easy for fellow Renault runners Red Bull and Toro Rosso as both continued to limit their on-track appearances while searching for further fixes to their disastrous winter testing up until now; Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner pointed the finger at a decision taken in 2009 decreeing that teams were responsible for their Energy Recovery Systems, a situation that places Renault at a disadvantage against rivals Mercedes and Ferrari.
DAY THREE – TIMES – Bahrain Testing 21st Feb 2014