As Hamilton and newly-engaged Button set the pace
- Daniel Ricciardo managed only 28 laps before ‘mechanical issue’
- Lewis Hamilton ends day three of Bahrain test on top of timesheets
- Jenson Button completed 103 laps and was seven tenths adrift of Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets ahead of fellow Briton Jenson Button on the third day of Formula One pre-season testing in Bahrain.
But Red Bull’s woes returned as they were forced to call an early halt to their programme.
Hamilton’s fastest time in his Mercedes was less than two seconds off Sebastian Vettel’s pole lap last year.
The resurgence of McLaren continued as Button clocked up 103 laps and finished 0.713sec behind Hamilton’s fastest lap.
Off colour: Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo managed only 28 laps on the third day of this week’s winter test in Bahrain
Red Bull face the prospect of burning yet more midnight oil after being forced to call another early halt to testing.
Just when it appeared as though the team were getting on top of their issues, with Sebastian Vettel completing 59 laps of Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit on Thursday, they took a further backward step just 24 hours later.
Vettel’s new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo managed 28 laps before the team came across what race engineering co-ordinator Andy Damerum described as ‘a mechanical issue we hadn’t encountered before’.
That forced the Red Bull mechanics to take the car apart to discover the fault, and ultimately to suspend running for the day.
Damerum said: ‘These issues are of course frustrating, but this was unrelated to the others so it’s just a case of tackling each one as it appears. .
On target: Jenson Button, recently engaged to model girlfriend Jessica Michibata, ended the day seven tenths adrift of Lewis Hamilton
‘We’ve a tough night in prospect, but we hope to get a good day in tomorrow.’
In the three of his six days in the car so far a frustrated Ricciardo has completed a grand total of just 38 laps
The Australian, who will be behind the wheel for the final day of the second test on Saturday, said: ‘Obviously, I would have liked to have done more. ‘But we still have tomorrow ahead of us and it’s important to be ready for that.
‘The car is definitely making progress though. It’s coming together bit by bit.
‘We’d love a big chunk all at once, but obviously that’s not the way these things work, so we have to be a bit patient for now.
‘However, it is coming and we’re heading in the right direction.’
Top of the table: Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time of the week to maintain Mercedes impressive start to 2014
Two teams who appear ahead of the rest at this early stage are Mercedes and McLaren, with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button topping the timesheets.
Hamilton posted the fastest lap of the week of one minute 34.263secs, less than two seconds off Vettel’s pole lap from last year. On his way to completing 67 laps, Hamilton did have a problem with the car that kept it in the garage for a period during the afternoon.
The 29-year-old said: ‘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 we were able to find and fix something again today.’
It was left to Button to top the lap chart, clocking up 103 to finish 0.713secs behind former McLaren team-mate Hamilton.
All smiles: Hamilton has enjoyed an impressive start to the new year with Mercedes
Two other Mercedes-powered cars in Williams and Force India, driven by Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez, were third and fifth quickest, albeit around three seconds adrift.
Massa shared driving duties with team-mate Valtteri Bottas who posted 55 laps, but remarkably not one of them timed as Williams focused on pit-stop practice such are the strides they have made with their car.
The only non-Mercedes team to break into the top five was Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez, splitting Massa and Perez, on his way to a 98-lap total. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was down in sixth, the Finn only managing 44 laps due to telemetry problems with his car. Then came the Renault-powered runners, with Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat leading the way ahead of Pastor Maldonado on his debut for Lotus, Ricciardo and Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson.
The rookie Swede managed 98 laps, en route passing the 300-kilometre mark, so enabling him to gain the required superlicence to compete in F1.
Marussia’s troubles continued as Max Chilton managed only four laps before the team opted for an engine change which they failed to complete in time before the close of play.
Source : Daily Mail