Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes topped the times on the final day of winter testing in Bahrain, indicating once again that the W05 is likely to set the pace in Melbourne in a fortnight’s time.
Eight red flags reflected another day of mechanical problems across the field, although all bar Lotus and McLaren still managed to complete a respectable number of laps. Indeed Sauber impressed as Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez totaled a remarkable 177 laps, making up for time lost yesterday.
For a second consecutive day Mercedes started late after problems were discovered overnight, although this time it was the gearbox rather than engine at fault. However, Hamilton was able to make up for lost time and log 70 laps for the day.
Although Hamilton’s time was 0.020 seconds off the overall best – set yesterday by Felipe Massa – he achieved it on used soft tires, while Massa’s was on new supersofts, and most of the other top times for the week were set on the supersofts.
“This has definitely been the most challenging winter I’ve experienced and the car is still very much a work in progress,” said Hamilton. “But we’ve learnt a lot over the course of these last few weeks and overall it’s been a good winter of testing for us. There’s been an incredible amount of work put in by the team back at the two factories and on track. I have to say a special thanks to the crew here today who had a tough task in front of them but never lost their cool.
“It was a tough start to the day but they managed to get the car turned around for me to complete some good laps in the afternoon, which was a fantastic effort. There’s so much to learn with these new cars; it’s just mind-blowing and I don’t think anybody can be fully ready for the challenge of this season. But I feel as ready as I can be and I’m looking forward to seeing where we are in Melbourne.”
Once again Williams impressed as Valtteri Bottas set the second best time of the day, although late in the day the team suffered a failure of a high mileage engine.
“I think our final day of testing was very good, right up to a very unlucky failure just one run before the end,” said the Finn. “Overall, it was a still a good day as we had no other issues throughout and made a lot of progress with the car setup. I think with this amount of testing we are as prepared for Melbourne as we can be.
“We still need to work very hard in these next two weeks but overall I’m happy with how testing has gone for us. As I didn’t have the chance to do a quick time on the supersoft tire today, I am looking forward to picking up where we left off when we get to Melbourne.”
Fernando Alonso and Ferrari were third fastest today as once again the Italian team appeared to be off the pace of the Mercedes contenders. The Spaniard lost track time while the gearbox was changed.
“The team did its utmost to carry out changes on the car as quickly as possible, but again today, we had planned to do more laps than we managed,” he said. “There are a lot of things to learn with the use of the power unit to improve the performance of the car and we are not yet where we want to be. Everyone in the team is very competitive and we are working day and night in order to get all the potential out of the F14 T as soon as possible.”
Force India had another good day, despite a failure ending Nico Hulkenberg’s day early.
“The final day of testing went pretty well. In the end we didn’t do the race simulation, but we did some long runs and signed off a lot of other things on the job list,” said the German. “We didn’t do as many laps as yesterday, but we still made progress and learned some new things. So it’s been two good days for me and I’m feeling pretty satisfied. You always want more time to prepare, but I think we’re in good shape. The car has come a long way since the first Jerez test, and we have made progress every day.”
Sebastian Vettel did not have a perfect day, and while he eventually managed 77 laps, his best time was four seconds off the ultimate pace.
“We did a lot of laps today so that was useful,” he said. “We tried to do a race distance today; for one reason or another that didn’t work out, but in two week’s time things should look a little bit different. Obviously it’s difficult to know where the car is.
“It’s not just the number of laps you do, but also the type. There are so many different running options, not just with tires and high or low fuel, there are engine options as well – full power, low power etc, so it’s impossible to say where we are. We know we have to catch up in a lot of areas, but that said, I’m happy today, we did a lot of laps, we learned a lot and it was a positive end to a tough week here.”
Of the rest, McLaren again had a truncated day as Jenson Button managed only 22 laps after an engine failure stopped him, while Lotus continued to struggle as Romain Grosjean languished at the bottom of the times after running only 32 laps.
“We’re not in an ideal situation,” said Grosjean. “There is a lot of new technology for everyone to understand, but even though we have stopped many times and spent a lot of time in the garage, each time we run the car we are learning something new. We’re all working as hard as we can in Enstone and I’m sure that Renault Sport F1 is doing the same. We now have two weeks to find a lot more performance and reliability.”
|4||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India||1:35.577||74|
|5||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:35.701||74|
|9||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:37.468||77|