Hamilton completes final F1 Pre-season test tops at Bahrain

  The second Formula One test at the Bahrain International Circuit drew to a conclusion on Sunday with Lewis Hamilton on top of the final day’s time sheets. After three important pre-season tests, all teams still faced uncertainties related to the new regulations and downgraded cars. Next up, the teams now regroup and prepare for the opening race of the new season. (click to enlarge)

Force India’s Sergio Perez kicked started the final test session at Sakhir with the quickest lap time on day 1. He followed it up with another quickest lap time on day 2. Felipe Massa was next in line to grab the quickest lap time for Williams on day 3, before Hamilton answered back on the final day with a chart topping 1:33.278. The fastest lap time honors over the four days however went to Massa who posted a 1:33.258.

Mercedes AMG team is one of the more consistent teams over the 3 pre-season tests. After 12 days of testing, the team completed the highest mileage of any constructor with 4,973 km. The Mercedes-Benz PU106A Hybrid powerplant topped the charts with a total of 17,993 km across all teams.

Lewis Hamilton does quickest lap at Sakhir on final day of 2nd Bahrain Pre-season test

Hamilton’s best time of 1:33.278 from 70 laps put him top of the time sheets on final day. The Briton’s scheduled run was delayed in the first half due to a gearbox issue. After things cleared, Hamilton quickly got acclimatized with the F1 W05 for five laps, prior to the second half. He then completed 65 laps in the second half, working on setup evaluation and qualifying simulation.

Champions RBR (Red Bull Racing) struggled through the final pre-season test with four-time champion Sebastien Vettel at the helm. Vettel even admitted later that it had been a difficult run for the team overall. “We tried to do a race distance on the last day; for one reason or another that didn’t work out, but in two week’s time things should look a little bit different,” vettel reiterated. “Obviously it’s difficult to know where the car is. It’s not just the number of laps you do, but also the type. There are so many different running options, not just with tyres and high or low fuel, there are engine options as well – full power, low power etc, so it’s impossible to say where we are.”

Vettel did 44 laps in the first half and another 33 laps in the second. The champ encountered a front-end mechanical glitch during the first half’s session, which was fixed in a hurry. Vettel went for a race distance simulation in the second half, but was interrupted by a red flag. All said and done, RBR have two weeks to settle its pre-season test issues to prepare for the opening race of the new season.

Lotus’ Romain Grosjean ended the final day of pre-season testing with 32 laps completed, and a best lap time of 1:39.302 at Sakhir. Grosjean encountered a power unit issue which disrupted his final day’s testing somewhat. But all said and done, the Lotus crew now focused on maximizing the potential of the E22 ahead of the Australian Grand Prix. “We’re not in an ideal situation. There is a lot of new technology for everyone to understand, but even though we have stopped many times and spent a lot of time in the garage, each time we run the car we are learning something new,” Grosjean summarized.

A difficult final day for McLaren as Jenson Button struggled to retrieve the tenth quickest time. The technical staff were able to carry out some significant set-up work during the first half. However, the team’s attempts to understand the behavior of its Melbourne-spec front wing were curtailed by a red-flag. Button later encountered a high-mileage internal combustion engine failure, which put his car on ice for much of the second half’s activities. At the end of the day, any further attempts to run were hit by an as-yet undiagnosed control electronics issue. So, it was a limited run-data day for McLaren, but Button was able to run a final lap under the circuit’s spotlights thanks to an extended 30-minute session.

Force India completed its final day’s pre-season testing program with Nico Hulkenberg clocking up 74 laps in the VJM07. Hulkenberg gained a quickest lap time of 1:35.577 over 401 km for fourth overall. “The final day of testing went pretty well. In the end we didn’t do the race simulation, but we did some long runs and signed off a lot of other things on the job list,” the German driver commented. “In all, it’s been two good days for me and I’m feeling pretty satisfied. You always want more time to prepare, but I think we’re in good shape.”

Hulkenberg edged Jean-Eric Vergne, Adrian Sutil, Marussia’s Max Chilton and the second Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez. Vergne gave the STR9 its final evaluations, which included; an assessment on suspension changes, tyre compound evaluations and simulated long runs. Over at the Sauber camp, Sutil and team mate worked the first and second halfs to obtain the final data of the C33. Sutil did 91 laps and Gutierrez another 86 laps.

Sauber F1 team was able to get through a tough testing program in Jerez and Bahrain reasonably well. Despite encountering unexpected issues, which resulted in less time on track, the team have picked up necessary data in its preparation to face the season opener in Melbourne.

Valtteri Bottas achieved second quickest time in front of Fernando Alonso, underscoring the Williams’ car’s competitiveness in the final day’s session.  Alonso worked on fine tuning electronic configurations linked to optimizing the use of energy in the new power unit. After a gearbox change in the first half, the double F1 champ took the F14 T out for a series of short and long runs. Over the four days, the F14 T completed a total of 337 laps, equivalent to 1.823km.

The F1 crews now head back to respective factory headquarters for final checks to tackle the Formula One World Championships’ season opener at the Australian Grand Prix, 14 – 16 March.

2014 Formula 1 Pre-season test at Sakhir fastest times

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.278
2 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:33.987
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:34.280
4 Nico Hülkenberg Force India 1:35.577
5 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:35.701
6 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:36.467
7 Max Chilton Marussia 1:36.835
8 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:37.303
9 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:37.468
10 Jenson Button McLaren 1:38.111