Hülkenberg fastest, Red Bull still struggling
19 February 2014 – Force India driver Nico Hülkenberg set the standard as the second pre-season test of 2014 got underway in Bahrain on Wednesday, while World Champions Red Bull continued to struggle.
Amid four red flag periods, Hülkenberg rose to the top of the timesheets with a best effort of 1:36.880, narrowly faster than the benchmark set by Sebastian Vettel during last year's Bahrain Grand Prix and almost a second clear of Ferrari rival Fernando Alonso.
Alonso recovered to the runner-up spot after causing the first red flag of the day when plumes of smoke exited his F14 T. This occurred moments after the pit lane opened, which was 30 minutes later than planned due to confusion over the placement of trackside marshals.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a smooth day behind the wheel of the W05 en route to third, while McLaren's Kevin Magnussen, who led the mileage charts on 80 laps, rounded out the top four positions.
Vettel took fifth, but Red Bull again hit trouble. Having spent the first four hours in his garage, the German completed just a handful of laps before the RB10 ground to a halt and brought out the red flags, with his opening day total ending on 14 and his personal best time more than three seconds adrift of pace-setter Hülkenberg.
Sauber's Adrian Sutil, another to pause proceedings with a Turn 1 spin, followed in sixth place, two seconds ahead of Caterham tester Robin Frijns, who racked up a much improved 68 laps after his Jerez woes.
Daniil Kvyat, whose day was blighted by an oil leak and a late stoppage, was next up, while Romain Grosjean finished as the last of the timed runners as his Lotus team worked through teething problems with the E22.
Felipe Massa and Jules Bianchi were restricted to just a few installation laps throughout the day, with their Williams and Marussia teams encountering respective fuel system and IT configuration issues.
Pre-season testing in Bahrain is scheduled to continue at 9am local time (GMT +3) on Thursday