Pérez fastest as final pre-season test begins
27 February 2014 – Sergio Pérez set the pace as pre-season testing continued at the Bahrain International Circuit on Thursday. The Force India driver set a 1:35.290 to lead Williams's Valtteri Bottas by the best part of a second.
In a change to last week's gathering in the Middle East, teams have been given morning and afternoon sessions for the final four days of testing, with organisers opting to set aside an official 30-minute lunch window.
It was during the first half of the day that Pérez stamped his authority over the field, albeit with a time more than two seconds slower than the benchmark Nico Rosberg set five days ago. The Mexican, gearing up for his fourth Formula 1 term with a third different outfit, made a string of improvements before posting his best lap around three hours in.
Late improvements from Bottas and Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen saw the Finnish duo complete the top three, but the day was far from straightforward for the latter, who spent a large chunk of it stuck in his garage due to suspected electrical issues and the time it took to fit an array of new upgrades to the F14 T. He also caused the last of four red flag periods, bringing the day to a slightly premature end after grounding to a halt on the back straight.
Having comfortably topped the timesheets on the final day of the second test, Rosberg and his Mercedes team appeared to put more emphasis on longer runs this time out. The German, who ended the day fourth, worked his way through a detailed afternoon programme that included practice starts, pit-stop practice and race stints.
Adrian Sutil followed in fifth position, placing his Sauber narrowly ahead of McLaren's Kevin Magnussen who, along with pace-setter Pérez and Bottas, was able to rack more than 100 laps over the eight hours of track time.
Daniel Ricciardo posted Red Bull's fastest time of the test early on to give the outfit hope of progress, but further overheating issues hampered the RB10's running, and restricted it to just a brief outing in the afternoon session.
Max Chilton and Marussia enjoyed a more encouraging day of pre-season preparations after recovering from their computer virus troubles last week, completing 44 laps and finishing just ahead of Formula 1 rookie Daniil Kvyat, whose Toro Rosso would arguably have completed a race distance if it was not for a brief stoppage.
Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado and Caterham's Kamui Kobayashi brought up the rear after their teams suffered further problems. Both men caused stoppages and ended the day on just 31 and 19 laps respectively.
Pre-season testing in Bahrain is scheduled to continue at 9am local time (GMT +3) on Friday