On a sunny if particularly windy final day in Bahrain, Felipe Massa put Ferrari back at the top of the timing screens in the desert kingdom – but BMW-Sauber's Nick Heidfeld and Toyota's Timo Glock were not far behind.
Massa both began and concluded the Scuderia's
eight-day session around the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, and wound proceedings up with an in-depth analysis of set-up options for the new F60, experimenting with aerodynamic solutions and continuing ongoing engine and gearbox reliability work.
An electrical problem sidelined the Brazilian in the morning, whilst a re-occurrence of stray dogs in the afternoon momentarily brought out the yellow flags, but nonetheless the 2008 F1 Vice-World Champion professed himself pleased with the overall verdict of a test during which the Maranello-based outfit got through no fewer than 3,580 kilometres in the Persian Gulf, split evenly between Massa and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
“Today was a good day,” the 27-year-old summarised, “apart from some minor problems which held us up a bit. We have to work on that to avoid that they come back. The strong wind bothered us a bit, [but] we drove many kilometres to improve the car – and I think that we're heading in the right direction.
“We've seen during these days that there's a great balance, not just between the three teams on this track, but also with the others. We're at the start of the season, and now we have to wait and see who will take the biggest step until the first race starts. We'll know much more in Melbourne.
“It was a pity that we lost almost two entire days here last week because of the sandstorm, but I think that all-in-all we were able to make up the lost time. I'm convinced that the decision to come to Bahrain for this long test session was very good.”
Heidfeld ended the day second-fastest behind Massa, barely six hundredths adrift of the pace-setter after completing 122 laps. The experienced German again concentrated his efforts on the set-up of the F1.09, focussing particularly on suspension and aerodynamics, whilst also carrying out a number of practice starts and long runs, pushing the total mileage for the eight days up to 3,695km.
“Today the track conditions were the best they have been all week,” reported the man from Mönchengladbach, whose work was interrupted twice by mechanical woes. “We could already try a couple of improvements. The car reacts to changes as planned, so I'm confident we are working in the right direction.”
“Although we lost some time due to a sandstorm last week, the long test in Bahrain was very productive,” agreed the Bavarian concern's technical co-ordinator Willy Rampf. “We could work with the cars in temperatures we would not have encountered in Europe at this time of the year, making it good preparation for the first races of the upcoming season.