- First Bahrain Test - Day Four
Rosberg finishes test on top, Raikkonen crashes
Nico Rosberg made sure Mercedes finished the second pre-season test on top, which fairly reflected the emerging pecking order after four days of on-track action in Bahrain.
Mercedes has led the way this week and on the final day Rosberg trimmed the best part of a second off Lewis Hamilton's benchmark lap to go within a second of his pole position time at last year's Bahrain Grand Prix. McLaren and Jenson Button got closest but was still nearly 1.7s shy of the German as Mercedes continue to lead the way in terms of both pace and reliability.
Any chance of a last minute flying lap for Mercedes' rivals was lost when Kimi Raikkonen crashed his Ferrari five minutes before the chequered flag. He lost the car coming out of Turn Four and wiped the F14 T's nose off against the barrier. He had completed a respectable 81 laps up that point, but despite being third fastest he was still nearly 3.5s off Rosberg.
However, the day was not without its hiccups for Mercedes as Rosberg twice stopped on track. Overall there were seven red flags on the final day with Marcus Ericsson's Caterham going up in smoke early on, Sergio Perez's Force India stopping on track in the morning, Pastor Maldonado in the afternoon, Adrian Sutil in the final half hour and Raikkonen's crash bringing an early end to the day.
Although its car didn't stop on track, Red Bull had another frustrating day with just 15 laps completed by the chequered flag. The team called an early end to its Friday programme to try and fix a mechanical issue, but a separate problem emerged on Saturday. After another week of limited running, the reigning world champions have just four more days of testing to get the car working reliably ahead of the first race in Australia. So far, Sebastian Vettel's 59 laps on Thursday this week is still the most miles the RB10 has managed in a single day.
"This morning we felt like we were in good shape," explained Red Bull race engineering co-ordinator Andy Damerum. "We had everything completed ahead of schedule and got out in good time. However, on Daniel's install we noticed a software problem and that knocked us back for the morning.
"We got out again around lunchtime and put in a 10-lap run but we had to abort that as we had another mechanical issue. We brought Daniel back in and discovered some damage on the car, which following investigation was worse than we imagined."
One man who enjoyed a relatively smooth day was Williams new reserve driver Felipe Nasr. After his new role was announced by the team overnight, he got straight down to work on Saturday morning and by the end of the day had completed 87 laps and registered the fourth fastest time.
Maldonado set the fastest Renault-powered time of the day with a 1:38.707 in the Lotus. Although the lap was still a long way from being competitive, the 59 laps completed by Maldonado represents genuine progress for the E22 on the final day of its first week on track. Renault claims to have solved the major problems it experienced in Jerez, but admits it is still a week behind where it wants to be and with slow days for Toro Rosso and Caterham there are still concerns for all four of its customers.
Sutil failed to set a time over the course of the day and only completed seven laps after a chassis problem saw the Sauber stay behind closed garage doors all morning. Jules Bianchi also failed to set a time in the Marussia, but was just about to head back on track when Raikkonen crashed with five minutes remaining.
Times on Day Four
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.283 89 laps 2. Jenson Button McLaren 1:34.957 66 laps 3. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:36.718 81 laps 4. Felipe Nasr Williams 1:37.569 87 laps 5. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:38.707 59 laps 6. Sergio Perez Force India 1:39.258 19 laps 7. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:39.837 15 laps 8. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:40.472 19 laps 9. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:43.027 17 laps 10. Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:45.094 4 laps 11. Adrian Sutil Sauber no time 7 laps 12. Jules Bianchi Marussia no time 5 laps