Felipe Massa beat Nico Rosberg to the head of the timesheets in the dying minutes of day three of pre-season F1 testing in Bahrain by just 0.2 seconds, on a day when reigning Champions Red Bull experienced a catastrophic session.
It was Mercedes who began the morning in the headlines with a hefty overhaul job on Nico Rosberg’s F1W05, the German needing a new engine fitted before he could get out on track. Whatever his problems, they were nothing compared to the plight of Red Bull who, after a more promising day two, plunged into the depths of despair on day three as Sebastian Vettel broke down after four corners on his first run. A second attempt later on to get the World Champion out failed when he stopped without even leaving the pitlane, and before long Christian Horner confirmed their day was over.
Toro Rosso had an uplift in fortunes when Daniil Kvyat briefly headed the times in the afternoon, but there were still problems for the Italian minnows and fellow Renault engine runners Caterham and Lotus; most notably the Enstone based team when Romain Grosjean broke down out on track causing a red flag at the halfway mark.
For the Mercedes and Ferrari teams it was a case of more of the same, fettling their updates and piling mileage onto their cars in attempts to uncover any remaining bugs or niggling issues that plagued them. Jules Bianchi hit a snag when he broke down on track in the Marussia, and there were some issues for Raikkonen in the morning before he could get running again, but both teams overcame their problems. Raikkonen’s long runs in the afternoon attracted attention for all the wrong reasons, the Finn jerking erratically through a series of different laptimes to no seeming avail. Force India and Williams enjoyed some solid race prep work, while Magnussen continued to run in the McLaren MP4/29 devoid of updates, a situation that Jenson Button voiced his anxiety over yesterday.
Sauber had major problems as Adrian Sutil recovered to the pits early doors with a seemingly minor engine issue, only for the problem to spiral out of control and banish him to the garage for the entire day; he joined Vettel on the sheet of ‘no times’ to add to the woes Sauber have experienced on their car in testing this winter.
DAY THREE – TIMES – Bahrain Testing 1st Mar 2014
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