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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  28 Feb 2014   |  4:31 pm GMT  |  81 comments

Sergio Perez maintained his position as pacesetter at this week’s final Formula One pre-season test in Bahrain, heading a tightly-bunched  top three completed by Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo, Mercedes and Lotus, meanwhile, were force to cut their running short for the second day in succession.

Lewis Hamilton’s penultimate day in the Mercedes W05 before the Australian Grand Prix did not start well – a trip to the gravel trap bringing out the first of four red flags on the day. There were no lingering problems following the Briton’s stop, however, and he soon was back out and conducting a race simulation, matching Nico Rosberg’s Thursday tally of 89 laps before a gearbox issue caused the Brackley-based team to halt running with an hour remaining.

Lotus’ running yesterday was halted by an exhaust issue and day two was also troubled. The red flags came out for Pastor Maldonado in the afternoon as he stopped with flames enveloping the rear of his car. The Enstone squad admitted defeat with two hours of track time remaining.

Enjoying his time in Bahrain much more is Perez. Following a similar regime to yesterday, he and Force India set their quickest time during the morning session before focusing on longer runs this afternoon, a programme which saw him break through the 100-lap mark for the second day in a row. The Mexican finished the day with 108 tours under his belt. Perez also praised his team for making a “great step” forward following yesterday’s performance.

Just 0.06s adrift of top spot was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Building on Kimi Raikkonen’s 54 laps yesterday, the Spaniard put 122 laps on the board in the F14 T, with no mechanical issues arising.

It was a productive day for Red Bull Racing, too, with Ricciardo completing 66 laps and ending the session less than 0.2s off Perez’s pace. And afterwards the team’s Race Engineering Co-ordinator Andy Damerum admitted it had been a good day for the troubled outfit.

“A very much better day’s work for us today,” he said. “We were a bit late out in the morning but that was simply due to the repairs we had to make overnight because of the damage we had yesterday. It was pretty much a ‘fix in the field’. When we did send Daniel out this morning we again put him on short runs just to test everything, as obviously you don’t want to push too hard, have a problem and then wreck the rest of the day. That cautious approach also allowed us to do some pit stop practice, which we haven’t done as yet and also to do some aero work on the car.

“In the afternoon we were very much better again,” he added. “Daniel was able to do a longer run of 20 timed laps, our longest so far. The car is still difficult to drive but we’ll tune that out. We have more parts coming overnight and hopefully we’ll be able to get some more decent runs in with Sebastian over the next two days and also give him the opportunity to do some performance runs. Overall a good day today and very encouraging.”

Felipe Massa had a trouble-free day in the Williams, completing 103 laps to take fourth place by the close of play. The Brazilian will remain in the FW36 tomorrow before letting Valtteri Bottas draw their pre-season programme to a close on Sunday.

Jenson Button set the fifth fastest time on a difficult day for McLaren. The Briton brought out the second red flag of proceedings mid-way through the morning and remained in the garage for much of the afternoon. He eventually emerged with one hour remaining, completing some short runs to finish the day.

After a tough first test in Bahrain last week, Marussia have enjoyed more consistency this time out, with Jules Bianchi completing 75 laps in the Ferrari-powered machine.

Behind Hamilton and taking the eighth-fastest time was Jean-Eric Vergne, the French driver having a decent day at the wheel of the STR9. He finished in front of Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez, Maldonado’s and Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson.

Ericsson brought out the final red flag of the day after a technical issue caused a fire at the rear of the car and put an end to his day after 55 laps.

Bahrain Test Two; Day Two Times
1. Sergio Perez Force India 1:35.570s 108 laps
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:35.634s +0.064s 122 laps
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:35.743s +0.173s 66 laps
4. Felipe Massa Williams 1:36.507s +0.937s 103 laps
5. Jenson Button McLaren 1:36.901s +1.331s 52 laps
6. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:38.092s +2.522s 75 laps
7. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.041s +3.471s 89 laps
8. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:39.636s +4.066s 61 laps
9. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:39.976s +4.406s 106 laps
10. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:41.613s +6.043s 31 laps
11. Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:42.516s +6.946s 55 laps

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81 Comments
  1. boris says:

    looks like a good move by Sergio. Merc will have another year of info next year. meanwhile at mclaren next year honda coming in with no engine data.

  2. Phil says:

    JA ON F1 competition coming up methinks… guess how many cars will actually finish the first race? ;-)

  3. AlexD says:

    James, there is a typo:

    Just 0.6s adrift of top spot was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Building on Kimi Raikkonen’s 54 laps yesterday, the Spaniard put 122 laps on the board in the F14 T, with no mechanical issues arising.

    It is 0,06.

    It looks like if renault is not troubled, then it is more or less on the same level as Ferrari. Mercedes is ahead and is leading the pack.

  4. Blackmamba says:

    The gaps btwn the fastest times amongst the teams are quite significant with only 2 days of testing left.

  5. Alexander Supertramp says:

    122 laps by Alonso without problems, impressive.

  6. Jenks says:

    Looks solid for Force India. I hope they do well this year. In other news, the Renault-powered teams might want to seek sponsorship deals with some fire extinguisher manufacturers.

  7. Interesting headline from another news outlet: “Red Bull denies Vettel ‘hissy fit’…”

  8. Ceejay says:

    You know that Ferrari looks a whole lot better in Alonso’s hands. Kimi seems to be struggling with it.

    Given its Ricciardo’s last day in the car before Melbourne and they would have given him a chance of low fuel fast laps, that’s probably actually quite poor from Red Bull.

  9. Heinz says:

    Sincerely hope Kimi will also have an issues free day tomorrow. He’s had mechanical issues plenty so far, while FA has breezed through every test day. Odd.

  10. goferet says:

    Uh, talk above saving the best for last for with a couple of weeks to the start of the season, Red Bull appear to have turned a corner for the better.

    Yes good day for the team and hopefully the team can build on this momentum.

    Once again good effort by Perez for topping the timesheets, with this kind of performance it appears the team have real pace which is not based on fragile tyres.

    Mighty number of laps from the Ferrari powered cars as the engine manufacturer proves a worthy opponent to the Mercedes outfit.

    Williams too look like they had a good day with Massa’s rolling in over a century laps which can only be good news for the new sponsors.

    A bit of a difficult day for both Mclaren and Mercedes but the encouraging thing is this is just Mclaren’s first off day since the first day of testing whereas Mercedes don’t appear to get the same problems once fixed.

    However, I can’t help thinking maybe Lewis’ driving style has something to do with his gearbox failure. I mean of all drivers on the grid, Lewis seems to have the most problems with gearboxes.

    But a good omen for Lewis is that he has never had a DNF at the Australian race.

    Last but not least, with Caterham’s woes, the fans fear for the team’s future after the warning from owner Tony.

  11. Paul says:

    Question for James:

    Do the teams run each drivers own car on their designated day or do they just have one car only allowed at each test.

    Also have the teams now used both their race cars at the last two tests so that each drivers car has had a shakedown to ensure no underlying issues etc?

    Getting excited now – hoping Williams can sneak a podium in oz!

  12. goferet says:

    Food for thought.

    Assuming the Ferrari team are still experiencing a dry spell in the driver’s championship, if we’re to consider the past, I would say the team first need Mclaren to win before they too can succeed.

    Yes, seeing as Ferrari over threw Mclaren drivers in 1975 and 2000, the new theory states that Ferrari can’t win before Mclaren do.

  13. SteveS says:

    Caterham have completed by far the most laps across the first six days in Bahrain of any Renault powered team. It never seems to help them any though, in fact they seem to be going backwards in terms of both speed and reliability.

  14. Virat says:

    Want to see SFI on podium this year. They deserve it. It’ll make f1 a bit more interesting if Force India & Williams also compete for podium finish . :)

  15. Gaz Boy says:

    Well done Bull and Daniel for staying reliable and fairly quick, but I still fear that are lacking in information and set up knowledge relative to the big three of Merc, Macca and Prancing Horse.
    As for Mr Perex and FA, jury is out on that one, I’m always a bit cautious when I see – and I’m not being disrespectful saying this – a midfielder posting impressive winter lap times.
    Also, Lewis seems to have broken another transmission. What is with Lewis and gearboxes eh? I’ve posted a comment above on a theory on that.

  16. Red Rider says:

    Someone posted a few days ago that Red Bull had done some private testing. Is there anything to this?

  17. David Morton says:

    After watching testing and all the issues the cars are having, I would be surprised if we have more than eight cars finishing the first GP. I think it won’t be business as usual, and we will see cars in the top five who normally would not be there.

  18. Sri says:

    I heard the race simulation of Ferrari was eye-catching and impressive. So do we have a good race car but a bad/not-so-good quali car in Ferrari?

  19. Andrew says:

    Seems to me over the tests Mercedes has had a lot of niggles every day but not highlighted by the British press?

  20. kfzmeister says:

    There are rumors that Vettel had a sort of temper tantrum. Any truth to that??

  21. Owen says:

    Nice to see Marussia looking good – a nice team who could do with a lucky break. Hopefully someone will sponsor them to help them develop the car further. Sadly, Caterham is going backwards – I reckon Tony F is going to pull the plug sooner rather than later. I read earlier this week a crestfallen Kamui saying the car is slower than a GP2 car – ouch!!

  22. John T says:

    So will RBR be agitating for 20 lap races?

  23. Michael Powell says:

    Funny when the car fails its Renault at fault; when it succeeds it’s all Red Bull. Or Lotus.

    When BMW flopped at F1, people still thought them great. Mercedes and Ferrari have been in the doldrums for years, but sell well. Renault win over and over until we get bored, and still people smirk.

    Bear in mind that overheating comes from having a lot of power, and that’s what the Renault package seems to have in hand.

    So just cut some holes in the bodywork, why don’t you?

  24. James Allen says:

    At this stage they are usually running the first chassis built at the first test and then when they have a second one built up they will use that to make sure it’s ok for the season.

    It’s more about having the chassis ready than whose chassis it is

  25. James Allen says:

    Indeed!

    Less than half the field I reckon

  26. SteveS says:

    “.. of all drivers on the grid, Lewis seems to have the most problems with gearboxes.”

    I’ve noticed that also.

    Caterham will be in their own “competition” with Lotus to see who drops out of F1 first. I’d bet on Caterham to survive over Lotus. It’s very possible that both will fold by the middle of this season though.

  27. Gaz Boy says:

    Good point about Lewis and transmissions breakages. Lewis driving technique is similar to Sebastian and Our Nige in that he uses pre apex oversteer to rotate the car; almost like using the rear axle to point the car straight.
    I wonder if this sort of driving technique is harder on the transmission system than say, Jenson, whose driving technique relies more on mild mid corner understeer?

  28. NickH says:

    I heard the Ferrari engine might be a bit thirsty at full power, and they don’t know how Mercedes can run at full power and still meet the fuel restrictions. If it’s true could be a bit worrying for them.

    On another note, Rosberg said that on the back straight in Shanghai they think the cars will hit around 230mph with the new engines!

  29. Chuck 32 says:

    Headlines Aussie GP
    Marussia scores first F1 point at 2014 Australian GP finishing three laps behind lead Mercedes Driver Rosberg. The Mercedes Team lost the 1-2 podium when Hamilton put the car in the gravel trap while leading on lap 32, the error was attributed to a failure of the brake by wire system.

  30. Random 79 says:

    I guessed nine would retire, but I was only joking.

    But you have a better idea than any of us, so I ask you seriously: Do you really believe over half the field might just grind to a halt?

  31. Cliff says:

    2014 is shaping up to be just like the old days with pretty much all the teams going into the flyaways with lots of unknowns! Melbourne can’t come soon enough!

  32. matski says:

    That’s still not as bad as Melbourne in 2002, when only 8 cars finished the race and Mark Webber even got a points finish in the Minardi! :)

  33. Gaz Boy says:

    Reliability wise yes. Unfortunately Bahrain is not a good indicator of downforce potential we are still in the dark over aerodynamic ability.
    If they had tested at Silverstone where high speed downforce and stability is everything through the fast sweepers we would have a better idea, but of course Northhamptonshire this time of year is a bit cold and grey, so the Bahrain desert it is then.

  34. Gaz Boy says:

    Ferrari historically are rubbish at major regulation changes, remember 2005 and 2009? Yes, regulation changes for entirely different reasons but the fact is Ferrari do better with stability and continuity in the regulations to help them.
    And before anyone starts blabbering about how their 2009 car was compromised by having to develop their 2008 car till the end of the season, everybody was given the same rulebook for 2009 in spring/summer of 2007. It’s upto the design teams to study that rule book and exploit any grey areas, which Brawn did to perfection. If Ferrari missed a trick with the double defusers, then obviously their design team lacks the clarity of thought and lateral thinking required to create a world beater.
    Same for this season, I fear the Prancing Horse may lack the technical ingenuity, vision and direction of Merc, Macca and possibly even Frank and Claire. Also, Ferrari development programme in the last 5 years has been inadequate compared to the ruthless quest for performance from the British kit car teams right throughout the season.

  35. Craig D says:

    Clearly baiting but oh well, chomp, chomp: That’s not a theory! So how did Ferrari manage to win in the years when McLaren didn’t exist?!

    I bet you believe in Astrology.

  36. Martin (England) says:

    But Ferrari won in 2007 and Mclaren in 2008, I’m afraid the new theory is defunct.

  37. Random 79 says:

    You theories get weirder and weirder and yet strangely more and more plausible :)

  38. Random 79 says:

    That’s easy enough to explain. Say I’m a journalist for that news outlet.

    Me: So Mr. Horner, I heard Vettel had a hissy fit?
    Horner: No he didn’t! Where did you hear that?

    The result?

    “Red Bull denies Vettel ‘hissy fit’”

    Yes there’s probably a good reason I’m not a journalist :)

  39. SteveS says:

    Sounds like “Vettel denies beating wife” or “Vettel denies robbing bank” or “Vettel denies being Hitlers grandson”.

    As long as some idiots keep falling for this sort of thing the press will keep on doing it.

  40. James Allen says:

    Analysis and charts will follow

  41. IcemanSenna says:

    or drivers that sacrifice quali for race days. remember that kimi and alonso are the most strongest driver on sundays.

  42. NickH says:

    Ted Kravitz said Ferrari’s race sim was comparable to Force India, albeit with some issues during the run apparently

  43. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

    It may be a Ferrari car better than Force India and Williams for qually but slower than them in the race, perhaps linked to fuel consumption! Who knows, but can’t wait to see.

  44. Mocho_Pikuain says:

    Montmelo would have been the best option. Its a bit windy this time of the year, but warm enough and provides all kind of turns to test the car.

  45. NickH says:

    Ted Kravitz was saying that Alonso’s race run was on a comparison with Force India’s, although Alonso did say he had a few issues during it but they’d rather stay out and complete the race run than waste time in the garage

  46. kfzmeister says:

    122 laps by Alonso without problems, impressive.

  47. Alexander Supertramp says:

    Sure, but the first races might very much be cases of ‘to finish first, first you have to finish’. Ferrari have probably been the best with regards to reliability for some time now. I’m betting on a nice haul of points for Ferrari after the first 4 races.

  48. Tealeaf says:

    How do you know that? Im sure Mclaren are feeding Honda plenty of Mercedes info as we speak, also do you honestly believe Honda ar not testing their new engines in test mules in Japan this year? With the homologation no effecting Honda they will produce a world beater next year with Mclaren.

  49. gazz says:

    Honda will surprise most people when they enter into the sport next year. They have been supplying and developing 1.6 turbo engines for years in Indy car and most teams use Honda. Dont discount them just yet.

  50. Andrewinwork says:

    Maybe it’s the gearbox that’s been running since day one of test one and they were deliberately testing it to destruction

  51. Michael says:

    According to Hamilton they’re trying to break the car. Apparently, Merc wants to break it now so it won’t breakdown in the race.

  52. SteveS says:

    I’m guessing three-quarters of the field won’t make the finish line at the first GP.

    There isn’t going to be much actual racing going on. If someone is ahead of you the smart strategy will be to just continue lapping at your own pace and assume that the other guy will break down at some point.

  53. James Clayton says:

    Well there’s 8 Renault-powered cars in the field for starters…

  54. Timmay says:

    What did he just say?

    Even a car that has done 100 laps in testing has returned to the pits a dozen or more times so that isn’t continuous racin either.

  55. Tealeaf says:

    Yes Raikkonen seems not hooked up with the car compared to Alonso, maybe its in indication Alonso is ahead in terms of pace at the moment but we’ll see.
    Also dor RBR if thats the fastest lap possible with low fuel max power and soft tyres then they’re like 2.5sec slower than Merc and thats a huge gap but I doubt thats the case, lets see what Vettel can do in the last 2 days.

  56. Andrewinwork says:

    I agree, seems the further they’ve gone into the tests the less impressive. McLaren also going backwards so maybe we’ll see a famous single finger come podium time in Australia

  57. Ceejay says:

    Agreed. If you just followed the hype you’d think the 2 Merc drivers were vastly ahead on mileage. And yet it turns out its Alonso who has done most testing laps.

    And is it just me or do Mercedes and McLaren now look less pleased with themselves?

  58. Tealeaf says:

    Well over the last 5 years overall Ferrari has only been slower than 1 team and thats Redbull.

  59. goferet says:

    @ Gaz Boy

    You’re right mate. Ferrari have suffered with new rule changes in the recent past. Ironically, this is were Brawn excels.

  60. Anil Parmar says:

    Brawn did that in 09 because they didn’t develop their 2008 Honda car and spent months and months (and millions of pounds) on developing the car. Ferrari and Mclaren couldn’t divert staff to the 09 projects for the obvious reason that they were needed to push the 08 cars.

    You mention the 2005 Ferrari however in terms of aero, the 2005 Ferrari was great as it was just a successor to the 04 car. The problem was the Bridgestone tyres which were terrible; whenever they got into the right window Ferrari showed some decent pace.

    Ferrari should be fine this year; they finally have recovered from the testing ban and have wind tunnel and internal processes to match competitors. Further more, they finally have some more staff doing CFD, which is incredibly important for collecting data and creating new parts. Their recent hiring sprees have put have given them staff capacity to compete with Merc, Mclaren and Red Bull.

  61. NickH says:

    You have to remember the ‘Brawn’ was actually a Honda that had been designed over a 2 year period with an unlimited budget, but also that in 2008 pretty much all Honda resources were devoted to it because their 2008 car was an absolute dud that could barely get a point. Yes Ferrari and Mclaren were still working on their next car, but not to the same extent as they still had most of their resources aimed at winning the championship they were currently competing in and had a chance of winning, which is the whole point of F1 I guess.

  62. Macca Man says:

    Gaz- I’ll give you 2009 and McLaren were rubbish that year as well. As far as 2005 goes, that was down to Michelin making a far superior race distance tyre. Michelin’s F1 director felt that had Ferrari been on their tyres and not the Bridgestones, Ferrari would have won many races in 2005.

  63. Tealeaf says:

    Private testing? I thought that was Merc’s game.

  64. Gaz Boy says:

    Oh Random, your not a conspiracy theorist are you? Only joking, but all teams have peaks and valleys, and Ferrari especially. Sometimes they are dominant – 2002 and 2004 come to mind, other years they are useless – 2005 and 2009 come to mind.

  65. goferet says:

    @ Random 79

    Lol.

  66. goferet says:

    @ Craig D

    Lol… No, I don’t believe in astrology.

  67. goferet says:

    @ Martin (England)

    No, I was referring to Ferrari’s dry spells.

    The theory goes, before the team emerges from their dry spell e.g. 1980-1999, Mclaren have to be defeated first.

  68. Tealeaf says:

    Such a shame for Lotus, for alot of last year they had the 2nd fastest car last year.

  69. NickH says:

    Now that webbers not on the grid

  70. HerrE says:

    Well, let’s hope they can have some payback in Melbourne then…

  71. James Clayton says:

    Maybe they’re the fall guys? Maybe they’re having to run the engine at much lower capacity just to give Renault some data?

    Or… maybe they’re just slow! :)

  72. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

    You probably wouldn’t even need to fudge the interview when you’ve already hacked his phone. ;)

  73. Michael says:

    That would be a feel good story. I just can’t see it happening though.

  74. James Allen says:

    He’s a very competitive individual. Although he is also a team player I would expect him to read the riot act to Renault and to his team

    If he didn’t you would question whether he really cared

    I think the story works in his favour detractors might call it a temper tantrum

    But it wasn’t called that when Alex Ferguson gave a half time team talk that won his team the game second half….

    This is pro sport. This is how it works

  75. Random 79 says:

    You’re right – in F1 performance does does come and go in cycles…something that Red Bull is almost certainly about to learn to their sorrow.

  76. Random 79 says:

    Hacking phones = unlimited news ;)

  77. Alex Butters says:

    Wow 230?!

    Those track layouts on the F1 website (which show suggested gears / speed at each corner etc) will need updating this year lol…

  78. Ed says:

    I can’t believe there are not more comments about the RBR time, this is amazing, looks like we have a race after all, especially if this is indicative of the Renault unit (come on Lotus, you can do it)…

  79. Vivek says:

    James,

    I agree. Daniel Ric may be quieter given that he is new to the team. But I would expect a 4 time champ to read the riot act. It would be alarming if he does not.

    Vivek

  80. Random 79 says:

    Option A: Keep the bodywork, continue to overheat the engine and retire from every race until a better solution is found or…

    Option B: Cut some cooling holes in Newey’s nicely planned and aerodynamically efficient bodywork to stop the engine overheating in order to at least finish some races and hopefully bag some points until a better solution is found.

    And we’re going… (drum roll please) OPTION A!!! :D

  81. NickH says:

    Yeah amaizng, it’s all about the torque. Crazy to think the V8′s could barely scrape 200/205. I mean Alonso has clocked 336k’s even this test where they’re not really chasing performance, which is about 209mph

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