Massa fastest as Red Bull hits more trouble
1 March 2014 – Williams driver Felipe Massa set the quickest time of Formula 1 pre-season testing in Bahrain on Saturday, while reigning World Champions Red Bull hit further problems and failed to complete a full lap.
Massa, conducting his final scheduled stint at the wheel of the FW36 before the opening race weekend of the season in Australia, delivered a 1:33.258 in the closing stages of the afternoon session to stamp his authority over the field and bring to an end Force India's pace-setting run.
It moved Massa and his team to the top of the list for the seven days of testing at Sakhir so far, with the Brazilian eclipsing Nico Rosberg's previous benchmark by just under three hundredths of a second.
Red Bull's day was effectively over after two sectors, with the RB10 – in the hands of Sebastian Vettel for the first time this week – grounding to a halt on its installation lap. After checking the car over for around 45 minutes, the mechanics opted to send the car out again, but it this time failed to go further than the end of the pit lane.
It was a similar story at Sauber, with Adrian Sutil restricted to just one lap after a fire broke out on his install run.
Back at the business end of the timesheets, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg ended the day as Massa's nearest challenger. The German had looked set to finish at the top of the pile after a sizeable improvement in the final 15 minutes, but his Williams rival responded with the aforementioned low 1m33s effort to move two tenths clear.
Rosberg's day was a particularly impressive one, given the fact that the Mercedes mechanics had to work through the night to fit a new power unit. After an early delay, he rewarded them with more than 100 laps.
Kimi Räikkönen completed the top three positions, but again took the brunt of Ferrari's pre-season problems. Having spent the majority of the morning in his garage, he was ultimately able to put together his first race simulation of the pre-season, adding to the one team-mate Fernando Alonso carried out on Friday.
McLaren's Kevin Magnussen, Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat and Force India returnee Nico Hülkenberg followed in a closely-matched group, all avoiding major drama and racking up useful mileage for their respective teams.
Despite a late morning stoppage, Jules Bianchi continued what has been an encouraging final test for Marussia, placing one second ahead of Caterham rival Marcus Ericsson, who completed the most laps of the day (117).
Romain Grosjean was the last of the drivers to record a lap time, finishing almost nine seconds off the pace. His Lotus team was forced to end its day early once again, with the E22 suffering from further technical gremlins.
Pre-season testing in Bahrain is scheduled to continue at 9am local time (GMT +3) on Sunday