Felipe Massa topped the times for Williams as teams began to edge towards running in full qualifying specification in Bahrain today.
The Brazilian recorded the fastest lap of the winter thus far, bettering the mark set by Nico Rosberg last week, albeit by the slender margin of 0.025s.
Once again reliability was the big story of the day as Sebastian Vettel failed to run a full lap, while Adrian Sutil barely completed one for Sauber and Romain Grosjean had another difficult day with Lotus.
Vettel stopped on his out lap with an electrical problem and after lengthy repairs experienced a leak when he tried to leave the pit lane, which ended his day for good. Sutil stopped in the pit entry at the end of his installation lap with an engine problem, and the Sauber was not seen again all day.
In contrast it was a good day for Williams as the dark blue car continued to log mileage and Massa continued the process of settling in with his new team.
“We had a very good day today doing almost 100 laps,” said Massa. “We did a lot more performance work in the car which is something that we haven’t done so much of so far. I’m really happy with the car and feel we found a good balance. We did so much work on the set-up but it is very important that we go to Australia prepared.
“Of course you are always happy when you see your name at the top in first place, but as well as performance, today was good for the mileage and reliability of the car which we know is needed for Australia. You can never be sure that you are 100% ready for the first race, but I feel that what we have done in these days testing has been important for making sure that we have a car that can not only get to the end of the race, but that will have good performance as well.”
Meanwhile Rosberg was just over 0.2s slower for Mercedes. A late overnight call on an engine change meant that the German missed the morning but he made up for it by taking the W05 over the 100 laps in a day mark for the first time.
“That was an incredible effort by the team and I’m really happy with our day’s work,” he said. “The night shift crew recognised a strange sound from the engine while working on it during the night so we had to change it, which took a good few hours and meant we missed out on running for most of the morning. In the end I managed to do over 100 laps, so this was a very useful final day of testing for me and I learned a lot in the process.”
Kimi Raikkonen lost a lot of time with what Ferrari called a problem with a connector, but went on to finish his final day of testing with the third best time.
“I’d hoped to do more laps, but this wasn’t an easy day,” said Kimi. “We lost some time this morning when we had to fix something on the car, but then we managed to make up for some of it in the afternoon. Running a race distance, we continued to get more data relating to fuel consumption strategies and tyre degradation, even though the strong wind upset the driving a lot. I’d like to be able to say we did better, but there’s still one more day with Fernando to continue our preparation for Melbourne.”
Kevin Magnussen was fourth fastest on his final day of testing for McLaren. Once again it was not a perfect day for the team.
“We had some electrical problems in the morning, but sorted them pretty quickly, and complete most of today’s run programme,” he said. “Today’s lap times from both Williams and Mercedes look very quick, but I don’t think any of the teams have been running to identical programmes, so it’s still hard to say. As a team, we’re not quite there yet, but we have more to come. Our car feels like it has potential – unlike last year’s car, where you could feel its problems when you were driving. This year, it feels like an F1 car.
“In terms of preparation, you always feel like you can do more – if we had more time, we wouldn’t stop! But, from a driving perspective, I think I’ve got all the basics covered in order to go out there and do a race. I don’t feel uncomfortable going into a Grand Prix now – I feel that I know all the procedures, I know what’s important, and I know what to focus on in a race weekend. And that’s really positive.”
Toro Rosso had much needed solid day of running with Daniil Kvyat, who set the fifth fastest time of the day and logged 81 laps.
“A very positive day because we managed to complete a good amount of laps. The work all went in the right direction and we carried out many important tests and did some longer runs. That means I am feeling much more confident with the car now. The next stop is Melbourne and I don’t want to make any predictions about how we will get on in Australia, although the one thing I can say is that I am really looking forward to my first Grand Prix.”
Force India, Marussia and Caterham all enjoyed solid days with good mileage, but as noted it was a frustrating day for Grosjean, who ran only 31 laps and was miles off the pace in the Lotus E22.
“It wasn’t a perfect day! For the time we were on track we were certainly learning, but it is true to say that we haven’t been as successful as we wished in our preparations so far. This doesn’t mean that everything is lost or that it will be impossible for us to win races, but certainly we are behind schedule. We’ll just keep working together to get on top of the situation and get some more time in the car.”
|5||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:36.113||81|
|6||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India||1:36.205||115|
|10||Adrian Sutil||Sauber||No Time Set||1|
|11||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||No Time Set||1|
Felipe Massa, Formula 1, Formula One