Force India’s Sergio Perez set the pace as the final four days of pre-season testing got underway in Bahrain today, the former McLaren driver finished ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen on another worrying day for Renault and its customer teams.
With just four days until the teams turn their attention to Melbourne it was another strong day for Mercedes-powered cars, with all but Rosberg completing more than 100 laps and building on the reliability that they have shown throughout the winter. As for the works Mercedes driver, even he put in 89 laps, but described it as a “difficult day”. Mercedes is running close to its Melbourne specification car in this week’s test and not everything performed well today.
“We are pushing everything to the limit and we still have a massive challenge in front of us during the last three days of testing. We need to maximise our time here to be prepared for Melbourne. But after a difficult day overall we are on the right path,” said Rosberg.
The same cannot be said for those cars powered by Renault. An early burst of 32 laps set up a promising day for Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing, only for an exhaust problem to restrict the team to the garage for much of the afternoon. The Australian racer reappeared with 25 minutes of the session remaining and completed seven slow laps as the team assessed the changes made.
“Last week we were doing stuff that we would have liked to have done in Jerez and now we’re trying to catch up on stuff from last week,” said Ricciardo. “We’re definitely not up to scratch with where we’d like to be in terms of programme.
“We know where we are with performance we’re putting in the car and I think we’re still confident that we can be up there. But it’s hard to say. It’s clear we probably won’t come out to Melbourne and dominate.”
Lotus, with Pastor Maldonado at the wheel of the E22, also made a bright start before a stop on track brought out the red flags. They, too, suffered an exhaust problem and the issue was significant enough to require the team to cut its day short with an hour of running remaining.
The other red flags of the day were also caused by Renault-powered cars, as Kamui Kobayashi’s Caterham ground to a halt this morning before the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat followed suit later in the day.
Back at the front, it was largely plain sailing for Mercedes-powered machinery. Perez’s best time of 1:35.290 was set in the morning before he focused on longer runs in the afternoon. The Mexican’s quick lap was good enough for an eventual gap of 0.9s to Bottas. Race simulations for McLaren and Williams completed a positive day for Kevin Magnussen and Bottas respectively, while Mercedes spent the afternoon conducting practice pit-stops and race starts. They cut their day short with ten minutes remaining citing ‘problems’, which they are yet to elaborate on.
A late, quick lap by Kimi Raikkonen saw the Finn complete the top three after his Ferrari team remedied an electrical issue from this morning. Raikkonen, though, brought the session to a close when his F14T stopped with two minutes left on the clock. Of Ferrari’s customer teams, Adrian Sutil’s Sauber ended the day in fifth place with a lap tally of eighty-nine, while Max Chilton finished in eighth place for Marussia.
Bahrain Test Two; Day One Times
1. Sergio Perez Force India 1:35.290 105 laps
2. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:36.184 +0.894s 128 laps
3. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:36.432 +1.142s 54 laps
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:36.624 +1.334s 89 laps
5. Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:37.700s +2.410s 89 laps
6. Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:37.825 +2.535s 109 laps
7. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:37.908 +2.618s 39 laps
8. Max Chilton Marussia 1:38.610 +3.320s 44 laps
9. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:39.242 +3.952s 56 laps
10. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:40.599 +5.309s 31 laps
11. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:42.285 +6.995s 19 laps