Mercedes again looked good in Bahrain Friday as Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the works car ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button.
However, it was not a troublefree session for Hamilton. He embarked on a race simulation run before his progress was stopped by a mechanical failure that kept him in the garage until the final hour. Nevertheless he was pleased with how the W05 performed.
“It was nice to be able to put together a good lap today because generally speaking there seems to be less grip available than last year,” said Hamilton. “I’m looking forward to completing a race simulation next week as we didn’t quite get to finish it today. We’re trying to find any issues we can now to prevent them happening during a race situation, so from that perspective it’s a positive that we were able to find and fix something again today.
“The car seems to be responding well to my style of driving and the power unit is looking promising, with all of the Mercedes-powered team completing good mileage. We won’t know where we are for definite until we get to Melbourne so we’re just continuing to focus on our run programs, keep positive and look forward; the team has done a great job to get where we are today so we just need to keep that going.”
Button continued with the good form already shown this week by McLaren teammate Kevin Magnussen, and his second fastest time was 0.6 seconds off that of Hamilton. Felipe Massa made it a top three for Mercedes, although he was 2.8 seconds off Hamilton’s best time.
“It was a shame we couldn’t drive on the first day as that would have helped us get even further along today,” said Massa. “But the most important thing was that we found and solved the problem. The car then did 116 laps yesterday, and we did 115 laps today combined so that is very positive.
“We did a lot of pit stop practice, which was the main goal today, and I saw a big improvement from the start of the day to the end which is important for the team to be ready and prepared for the first race. I think we are going in a good direction. The car is running well and I am happy. There is still a lot to do and to understand about the car, and improvements to the setup that we haven’t had time to do yet, but it’s very positive so far.”
Meanwhile Sauber continued to make progress with Esteban Gutierrez, the Swiss car logging 96 laps.
“I did a good amount of laps and was able to drive decent long runs,” said Gutierrez. “We did have small issues, but were able to solve them quickly. Mechanically and aerodynamically the car is working well, and it is becoming more consistent. There is still some work to do in other areas, but we are making progress. I was able to explore a lot of ‘new-set’ tires, and this is very helpful to get to know qualifying and race procedures.”
Sergio Perez was pleased to log his first proper mileage in the Force India: “Although I did two days of testing in Jerez, today was my first proper experience of the car with everything working as planned. There was a small delay this morning, but the rest of the day was interesting and we were able to do some good work in preparation for Melbourne. The first time I drove the car in Jerez it felt very different, but after today I am already getting used to the feeling. There’s less dowforce this year and lots of power so it’s an interesting challenge.”
Kimi Raikkonen’s day was interrupted by a telemetry problem which led to a long delay while the system was reset. He was able to make up for lost time in the afternoon when concentrating on setup work.
“We didn’t do as many kilometers as we had been hoping for because even though the problem was a minor one, it still took a while to fix,” said Kimi. “It shows how complicated these new systems are, but in the afternoon we managed to run consistently. It was useful in terms of getting used to the environment inside the cockpit after the Jerez test and to check some settings relating to the balance of the car.”
Rookie Daniil Kvyat finally logged a respectable number of laps with the Toro Rosso.
“This was the first time I have managed to do a lot of running and it was very important for me, as well as for the team, that I completed 57 laps,” said the Russian. “We worked on many things and made progress in several areas. There is still a lot to do, but I am happy at the end of what was a productive day. Tomorrow it’s Jev’s (Jean-Eric Vergne) turn to keep moving forward and then we can have a few days to see what we have learned, before the final session starts again.”
Pastor Maldonado ran only a few laps in the Lotus E22, while it was another difficult day for Red Bull, with a mechanical problem forcing Daniel Ricciardo to stop early.
Day 3 Results
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:34.263 — 67 Laps
2. Jenson Button (McLaren) 1:34.976 — 103 Laps
3. Felipe Massa (Williams) 1:37.066 — 60 Laps
4. Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) 1:37.180 — 96 Laps
5. Sergio Perez (Force India) 1:37.367 — 57 Laps
6. Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 1:37.467 — 44 Laps
7. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) 1:38.974 — 57 Laps
8. Pastor Maldonado (Lotus) 1:39.642 — 26 Laps
9. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1:40.781 — 28 Laps
10. Marcus Ericsson (Caterham) 1:42.130 — 98 Laps
11. Max Chilton (Marussia) 1:46.672 — 4 Laps
12. Valterri Bottas (Williams) No time — 55 Laps