Nico Rosberg ensured that Mercedes stayed on top on Day 4 of Bahrain test by posting a blistering laptime of 1:33.283s around the Sakhir Circuit. The laptime set on Pirelli’s soft rubber, was the quickest time of the weekend and less than a second shy of the time that put him on pole position at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
The German focused on qualifying simulations early in the morning before pouring more fuel in the afternoon for a race simulation. However, it wasn’t the perfect day for the Silver Arrows with Rosberg stopping twice on track due to mechanical issues. But the 28 year old believes that it was ‘’totally normal, and in comparison to other teams, we are in a good position with reliability”.
“We can be very pleased with the first test in Bahrain this week,” said Rosberg. “We completed a lot of mileage and learned more about the car with every lap we achieved. This morning we were able to try some qualifying practice runs which felt good, meaning I could attack the lap a bit as I found a good balance. Later in the day we did a race simulation, which was crucial to learn all the new things in the car."
McLaren were again second fastest with Jenson Button clocking the Bahrain circuit in 1:34.957 and completing a total of 57 laps.
After being held in the garage because of telemetry problems on Friday, Kimi Raikkonen successfully racked in mileage worth 82 laps on the final day of Bahrain test. However, he crashed heavily on turn 4, minutes before the session came to a close.
"I was on a kerb and got some fairly massive wheelspin,” Raikkonen explained after the session. “I couldn't catch it anymore and unfortunately it went directly into the wall and damaged the car.Things happen so I wouldn't say it's my fault. We improved the settings a lot and it's not too bad, but there's a lot of torque in the car."
Meanwhile, Felipe Nasr, who was recently announced as Williams test driver, made a successful debut by completing 87 laps and posting the fourth fastest time of the day.
“I am very happy to have driven a Formula One car for the first time, and reaching 87 laps made it also a very productive day,” said the Brazilian. “There were so many things going through my head before sitting in the car. It was what I was expecting though: very different to any other car I have ever driven with the amount of downforce, brake efficiency and the power. It was a learning process for me, but I was giving feedback to the engineers all day and I think we found some good things.”
Force India was the only Mercedes-powered car which endured a troubled day with Perez limited to just 19 laps after a drivertrain issue with his VJM07. He ended the day as sixth fastest.
Pastor Maldonado was fifth fastest and logged 59 laps in what was Lotus’ best day with their 2014 machinery.
“We gained a lot more laps today and it was good for me to get time in the car, said Maldonado. “There was a lot of work with different settings, aero runs and similar which meant there was quite a lot to think about, but I think it all went well. The car was much more reliable which has helped with our work and hopefully it’s a good sign for next week.”
However, problems continued for other Renault powered cars, most notably for world champions Red Bull with Daniel Ricciardo completing just 15 laps and not running at all during the final three hours of the session. Red Bull’s total mileage from first two tests stands at 137 laps.
"On Daniel's install we noticed a software problem and that knocked us back for the morning," Red Bull Race Engineering coordination Andy Damerum explained. "We got out again around lunchtime and put in a 10-lap run but we had to abort that as we had another mechanical issue."
"We brought Daniel back in and discovered some damage on the car, which following investigation was worse than we imagined. In the end, though, I don't think it would have been possible as a couple of late red flags ended running for everyone. It's been a difficult week: we've made some very good progress, particular on day two, but we've also had a number of problems that have again held us back." he added.
The scene wasn’t particularly different at the energy giant’s junior team Toro Rosso with Jean Eric Vergne finishing just 19 laps and ending the day as eighth fastest.
The two Caterham drivers logged a total of 21 laps on the final day of Bahrain test. Marcus Ericsson's CT05 came to a halt early in the morning and stayed in the garage until the final hour before it was taken over by teammate Kamui Kobayashi who logged in 17 laps in what was Caterham’s worst outing in the four-day Bahrain test.
Meanwhile, Sauber suffered a chassis failure which confined Adrian Sutil to his garage for much of the day. He failed to set a lap time and shared the final spot in the table with Marussia’s Max Chilton whose MR03 was plagued by “component reliability issues”.