Lewis Hamilton placed Mercedes well on top on Day 3 of Bahrain test after clocking a laptime of 1:34.263s in the morning session. However, it wasn’t a troublefree day for the 2008 world champion with the Brit having to stop his race simulation due to a hydraulics issue.
“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,” Hamilton said. “ 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”.
Jenson Button finished the day as second fastest, with his lap time of 1:34.976s being seven tenths off a second slower than that of his former teammate. But more importantly, in terms of mileage, the 34 year old completed 103 laps without any problems.
Williams had a productive outing too with the team completing 43 pit stops today with Valtteri Bottas behind the wheel. He then handed over car to Felipe Massa who made up for the time lost on the opening day by circulating the Middle East circuit 60 times with the best time of 1:37.066s.
“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.”
Continuing with the Mercedes-powered cars, Force India’s new recruit Sergio Perez logged 57 laps with the fifth fastest time on board. Fellow Mexican Esteban Gutierrez had a decent outing with the Sauber driver completing 96 laps and finishing just ahead of Perez in the timesheets.
Kimi Raikkonen in the works Ferrari improved in the final hour of the day to end sixth fastest with 1:37.476s. His running was limited by a telemetry problem which restricted him to the garage for much of the day.
Meanwhile, Pastor Maldonado could only complete 26 laps to add the to the 25 laps done by his teammate Romain Grosjean on the opening two days of the Bahrain test. The Venezuelan's E22 came to halt twice on track, first due to a gearbox problem and then due to an issue not yet revealed by the Enstone based squad.
After a decent outing for world champions Red Bull on Thursday, the Austrian team endured a troubled Friday with Daniel Ricciardo having to sit out with just 28 laps on board after team discovered ‘’a mechanical issue that we hadn’t encountered before.”
"After yesterday's good work we had another positive period overnight with the car build, which we're getting quite good at, and it looked good this morning,” Red Bull Engineering coordination Andy Damerum said. “ We made more changes over lunch and in doing so we came across a mechanical issue that we hadn't encountered before and because of its nature it means we have to take the car apart. As everyone in the pit lane is finding out this is a long process, so we decided to suspend running in the afternoon so that we can be ready for the final day. These issues are of course frustrating but this was unrelated to the others so it's just a case of tackling each issue as it appears. A tough night in prospect but we hope to get a good day in tomorrow."
Caterham again proved to be thge best of the Renault lot when it came to mileage with rookie Marcus Ericsson logging 98 laps around the Bahrain International Circuit. The Swedish driver, hence, completed 300km in a Formula 1 car to qualify for a Superlicense.
It was another dismal day for backmarkers Marussia with Max Chilton limited to just 4 laps due to a fuel system problem.