Lewis Hamilton finished the third day of testing in Bahrain at the top of the timesheet, as Red Bull Racing suffered another set-back, the team ending running early after Daniel Ricciardo had completed just 28 laps.
Hamilton spent the morning focusing on short runs and spent the best part of the day almost three seconds ahead of his rivals. His best time of the day was a 1:34.263 set on soft tyres. The Briton retired to the garage for a spell in the afternoon while Mercedes worked on a hydraulic problem but later emerged to work through longer runs, eventually topping out at 67 laps for the day.
Jenson Button finished the day in second position, seven tenths adrift of his former team-mate after clocking 1:34.976 on super soft tyres. The McLaren driver was the busiest man on track, however, putting in 103 laps of the Sakhir circuit for his second place on the timesheet.
Mercedes-powered cars again led the way, with Williams’ Felipe Massa posting 60 laps and a third fastest time of 1:37.066. The Brazilian, who had been restricted to just five laps on day one of the test, was given extra time in the car today, with Valtteri Bottas handing over the Massa after the Finn had spent the morning lapping but not recording a time as he repeatedly headed for pit lane to give his crew pit stop practice.
While Mercedes were driving forward – so much so that they could turn their attention to performance runs – Red Bull Racing were going backwards.
Daniel Ricciardo completed just over 20 laps before the team discovered a mechanical problem while making set-up changes during the lunch break and after five more laps in the afternoon, the team again called a halt to track running with Race Engineering co-ordinator Andy Damerum admitting that with the car needing to be dismantled it was better to focus on tomorrow’s running.
Once again, though, the champions weren’t the only team with issues. Ferrari’s hopes of early morning running were wiped out by telemetry problems and by the midway point of the day Kimi Raikkonen managed just 12 laps. He went on to a total of 44 by the end of the day, however, and a best time of 1:37.476.
Lotus’ problems continued, too. Pastor Maldonado, making his first appearance with his new team, started well but soon brought out the red flags, stopping just before lunchtime with a gearbox issue. Maldonado was soon sentback out on track but stopped again shortly after. He managed just 26 laps.
Elsewhere, Daniil Kvyat had a useful day at the wheel of Toro Rosso’s STR9, the Russian teenager recording 57 laps and posting a best time of 1:38.974 late on to finish seventh on the timesheet, ahead of Maldonado. Despite delays early in the morning Sergio Perez clocked up 57 laps for Force India and finished fifth-fastest. Marussia, meanwhile, had to carry out an engine on Max Chilton’s car when the Briton stopped after just four laps but the team was unable to complete the change before the end of the session.
Bahrain Test 1 – Day Three Times
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.263s 67 laps
2. Jenson Button McLaren 1:34.976s +0.713s 103 laps
3. Felipe Massa Williams 1:37.066s +2.803s 60 laps
4. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:37.180s +2.917s 96 laps
5. Sergio Perez Force India 1:37.367s +3.104s 57 laps
6. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:37.476s +3.213s 44 laps
7. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:38.974s +4.711s 57 laps
8. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:39.642s +5.379s 26 laps
9. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:40.781s +6.518s 28 laps
10. Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:42.130s +7.867s 98 laps
11. Max Chilton Marussia 1:46.672s +12.409s 4 laps
12. Valtteri Bottas Williams no time 55 laps