- Second Bahrain Test - Day Four
Hamilton fastest on final day
Lewis Hamilton topped the final day of pre-season testing in Bahrain, setting a time just 0.02s off the fastest lap of Bahrain this year set by Felipe Massa.
Hamilton's day got off to a slow start due to a gearbox problem in the morning that prevented the Mercedes from hitting the track for the first three and a half hours. In the final hour Mercedes bolted on a set of super-soft tyres and let Hamilton loose on a low-fuel qualifying-style lap. It bettered Valterri Bottas' best effort of the day in the Williams by 0.709s and sets up the tantalising prospect of a close battle between the two Mercedes-powered cars at the first race in two weeks' time.
All teams were offered an extra 25 minutes of running under Bahrain's new floodlights, but not all benefitted due to reliability issues. Bottas suffered an engine failure in the final hour that the team said was down to high mileage on the Mercedes V6. McLaren also suffered a high-mileage engine failure, but it happened much earlier in the day and meant Jenson Button was restricted to just 22 laps. The team was hoping to test its Melbourne-spec front wing but an electronics issue late in the afternoon meant Button could not offer any meaningful feedback on the update.
Red Bull bounced back from its shocker on Saturday with 77 laps on Sunday. The car had a front-end mechanical issue that slightly hindered the team's plans and when it was running it was over 6.430s off the pace of Hamilton's best lap. Watching from trackside, the car was cruising compared to some of its rivals, but the mileage will provide useful data for the team to crunch ahead of Australia.
Fernando Alonso's final day in the Ferrari consisted of 74 laps and the third fastest lap, but he was still 1.002s off Hamilton at the end of the day. His running was hampered after the lunch break by a gearbox change before he completed a series of short and long runs to check to the management of various systems in the afternoon. Force India's Nico Hulkenberg was fourth fastest but didn't appear to attempt a low-fuel lap, with his best effort 2.299s off Hamilton. Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso was the highest placed Renault-powered driver with a time 2.423s off Hamilton's.
Lotus' woes continued with just 32 laps for Romain Grosjean on the final day. The team heads to Melbourne without a race simulation under its belt and with no practice start data to analyse. The day finished with an engine failure on the back straight between Turns 10 and 11. As things stand, just seeing the chequered flag will be an achievement and the team admits it will still have an awful lot to learn in the practice sessions at Australia.
In contrast, the high-mileage award of the final day went to Sauber, which split its day between Adrian Sutil in the morning and Esteban Gutierrez in the afternoon. Combined the drivers completed a total of 177 laps, making up for the disappointment of Saturday's single lap. Caterham will also be pleased with another 100-lap day, while Marussia totted up just 61.
Day Four, final times:
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.278 69 laps 2. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:33.987 108 laps 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:34.280 74 laps 4. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:35.577 74 laps 5. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:35.701 74 laps 6. Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:36.467 91 laps 7. Max Chilton Marussia 1:36.835 61 laps 8. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:37.303 86 laps 9. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:37.468 77 laps 10. Jenson Button McLaren 1:38.111 22 laps 11. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:38.391 106 laps 12. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:39.302 32 laps
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