Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of the third day of testing as Mercedes-powered cars continued to set the pace and Red Bull hit more trouble.
After starting the day with some quick early times, Hamilton eventually lowered his best to a 1:34.263; less than two seconds off the pole position time set by Nico Rosberg here in 2013. What made Hamilton's lap all the more impressive was that it was set on the soft compound tyre as opposed to the supersoft used by Kevin Magnussen to set the pace on Thursday, but it wasn't a completely smooth day as a hydraulics issue hampered Mercedes' running.
Jenson Button continued McLaren's work by almost matching Magnussen's time from yesterday, setting a 1:34.976 to finish the day 0.066s slower than his team-mate had managed.
However, Red Bull encountered yet more problems as a new mechanical issue led the team to suspend running early in order to try and prepare the car for the final day. Daniel Ricciardo managed just 28 laps and a time 6.5s off the pace as race engineering co-ordinator Andy Damerum admitted the team faces “a tough night” to get the car sorted
It was a very productive day for Williams as it again was the only team to complete more than 100 laps. Valtteri Bottas drove in the morning, clocking up 55 laps but not setting a time as the team focused on pit stops. Felipe Massa then took over the car for the afternoon having missed out on significant running on Wednesday and set the third fastest time during his laps.
Esteban Gutierrez was the only man to split the Mercedes-powered cars, with his Sauber fourth fastest on a 1:37.180. That left him just under 0.2s ahead of Sergio Perez, although Force India was only able to complete 54 laps after not emerging from the garage until two hours in to the day.
Ferrari was hampered by a telemetry issue which kept Kimi Raikkonen in the garage for a long spell during the middle of the day, but the team recovered with some late laps and a best time of 1:37.467.
Daniil Kvyat enjoyed his most productive day for Toro Rosso as he managed 57 laps and the seventh fastest time, leaving him ahead of the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado. The E22 started with some encouraging early laps but then was the cause of two red flags; the second coming on only the second lap after returning from the first stoppage.
While Renault still appears to be struggling, Marcus Ericsson had a very busy day as he totalled 98 laps in the Caterham – albeit well off the pace – but the opposite was true for Marussia as an engine failure for Max Chilton early in the day prevented any further running after just four laps.