Nico Rosberg set the fastest lap of the week on the final day of the second pre-season test in Bahrain as Red Bull remained in deep trouble.
A lap of 1:33.283 – set in the morning on soft tyres – saw Rosberg improve on the previous best time of the week by over a second and get within 0.9s of his pole position time from 2013 at this track. He also completed a race simulation in the afternoon as Mercedes continued to strengthen the belief that it is the clear favourite ahead of the start of the new season.
Jenson Button was once again second to a Mercedes, setting a time of 1:34.957 to end the day 1.6s off Rosberg's pace. While those two teams will be happy with their week's work, Red Bull's crisis deepened as Daniel Ricciardo managed only 15 laps and was not seen at all in the final three hours of the day. The lack of track time came despite Red Bull suspending running early on Friday to prepare for the last day of the test, and left it with a total of 137 laps across the first two tests.
Kimi Raikkonen was third quickest as Ferrari recovered from a telemetry issue on Friday to complete 81 laps, but he caused a premature end to proceedings when he dropped the Ferrari coming out of Turn 4 and spun to the inside of the track, hitting the barrier and damaging the car. Raikkonen finished 0.8s ahead of new Williams reserve driver Felipe Nasr, who had only been announced in the role overnight but was straight in to the car and completed an impressive 87 laps.
It was a more encouraging day for both Lotus and Renault as Pastor Maldonado completed 59 laps despite stopping out on track. His time of 1:38.707 was also the fastest lap set by a Renault-powered car this week, although it still left him over five seconds slower than Rosberg.
It was a day littered with red flags – seven in total – with Marcus Ericsson causing the first and not running again before handing over to Kamui Kobayashi in the final hour. Sergio Perez was sixth quickest but stopped on track in the morning after just 19 laps and didn't return as Force India endured a frustrating day.
Adrian Sutil caused a late red flag as his Sauber stopped on track after just seven laps. Sutil had been confined to the garage until the afternoon as Sauber changed his chassis after the team confirmed to Crash.net
that there was “problem with an interior part of the monocoque”.
There was a distinct lack of running for both Toro Rosso and Marussia too, with Jean-Eric Vergne only managing 17 laps and Jules Bianchi five; the latter hampered by a power unit change required on Friday when Max Chilton stopped on track.
Day four times available HERE