Felipe Massa reconfirmed Williams’ strong showing in testing by posting the fastest time on the penultimate day of Formula One pre-season testing in Bahrain today, ahead of Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen. The former Ferrari driver also logged 99 laps as elsewhere Red Bull Racing and Lotus once again struggled.
After completing over 230 laps around the Sakhir circuit across the opening two days this week, today saw the team demonstrate the FW36’s raw pace, Massa setting the fastest time seen in Bahrain this year, a 1:33.258, in the final minutes of the day on Pirelli’s supersoft tyre.
Massa had set the pace throughout the day, posting the fastest time in the morning session before lowering his benchmark this afternoon. His time of 1:34.450 looked to be good enough to seal top spot until Rosberg, also on supersofts, went quicker by a second to provisionally steal the bragging rights. Massa was not to be outdone, however, and the Brazilian immediately reclaimed the top spot by 0.2s.
Rosberg had missed much of the morning session after the replacement of some high-mileage components in the Mercedes power-unit led to an engine change, The swap didn’t harm the squad’s day, however, as they went on to complete 103 laps.
The same couldn’t be said for Red Bull and Lotus, the two Renault-powered teams enduring a torrid day that necessitated the closing of garage doors for long periods of time. Following a relatively satisfying day for Red Bull yesterday, the RB10, in the hands of Sebastian Vettel, today ground to a halt after just four corners.
After a lift back to the pit-lane and a 45-minute turnaround Vettel emerged from the garage with higher expectations, only for the car to stop before the end of the pit-lane. With work going on behind the scenes and Christian Horner onsite to oversee proceedings it was assumed that the World Champions would return to the circuit later in the afternoon, but with an hour of the day to run it was announced that they would not be making any further appearances.
Lotus did slightly better, Romain Grosjean managing 33 laps at the wheel of the E22 before a stop on track brought out the red flags. Thereafter, the team opted to cut its day short to focus on a crucial final day of testing tomorrow.
Kimi Raikkonen, had another strong day for Ferrari. The Finn spent the afternoon conducting a race simulation before a trio of shorter runs in the afternoon, with an eventual lap count of 87. Over at McLaren, Kevin Magnussen completed his first pre-season testing schedule in fourth place after another trouble-free day.
The issues surrounding Red Bull were not mirrored by its junior team, with Daniil Kvyat taking fifth place for Toro Rosso. The young Russian made use of the supersoft tyre to take the top spot early in the afternoon and racked up 81 laps in total.
Having topped the timesheets on the opening two days, Force India, this time with Nico Hulkenberg in control, focused on race simulations and went on to complete 115 laps. Hulkenberg finished in sixth place ahead of Marussia’s Jules Bianchi and Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson.
Interestingly, the Renault-powered Caterham recorded the highest number of laps today on 117, which again suggests that the problems affecting Lotus and Red are not solely down to Renault’s power unit.
Bahrain Test Two; Day Three Times
1. Felipe Massa Williams 1:33.258s 99 laps
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.484s +0.226s 103 laps
3. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:35.426s +2.168s 87 laps
4. Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:35.894s +2.636s 88 laps
5. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:36.113s +2.855s 81 laps
6. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:36.205s +2.947s 115 laps
7. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:37.087s +3.829s 78 laps
8. Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:38.083s +4.825s 117 laps
9. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:42.166s +8.908s 33 laps
10. Adrian Sutil Sauber No Time 1 lap
11. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing No Time 0 laps