F1 Felipe Massa pips Lewis Hamilton to top time in Bahrain tests

2014 FIA Formula One World Championship
Pre-season testing 2, Sakhir, Bahrain – summary

For immediate release
Monday, March 3rd, 2014


· Red Bull woes continue in pre-season F1 preparations
· Bahrain names Sakhir circuit corner after injured Schumacher

SAKHIR (Bahrain): Williams driver Felipe Massa topped the lap times at the end of eight days of pre-season Formula One testing at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir on Sunday.

The Brazilian clocked a fastest lap of 1min 33.258sec on Saturday to finish the testing season in emphatic style and head to Australia in confident mood.

England’s Lewis Hamilton won the final session on Sunday and his Mercedes team heads to the opening race in Melbourne as undisputed pre-season favourites after a series of test sessions where defending champions Red Bull struggled for competitiveness and reliability.

Officials at the Bahrain International Circuit also confirmed on Sunday that they have named a corner of the Sakhir circuit after Michael Schumacher, who remains in a medically induced coma in a French hospital after suffering head injuries in a skiing accident in December. Schumacher had a keen interest in the desert circuit’s design and the corner has been named with the full support of the German’s family.

Sergio Perez topped the time sheets during day one of the second week of testing. The Force India driver clocked a fastest lap of 1min 35.290sec and that was over two seconds quicker than his time in the first week of testing. It was the second time that Force India had topped the times after Nick Hulkenberg was quickest last week. The Mexican was still over two seconds slower than Nico Rosberg’s quickest week one lap of 1min 33.283sec.

Max Chilton gave Marussia some good news and ran for 44 laps, but his quickest lap was 3.32sec behind Perez.

Perez was again quickest on day two, although Fernando Alonso was a mere 6/10ths of a second behind the Force India driver in his Ferrari. The session was open to the public and drivers were available for autograph signing sessions.

The Mexican clocked a best lap of 1min 35.570sec in his VJM07-01, although this was slightly down on his best time from Thursday. “It was my last time in the car until we arrive in Melbourne and I am now feeling positive about how things are going,” said Perez.

Both Perez and Alonso had been the busiest drivers during the day two session; Perez clocked 108 laps and Alonso ran for a total of 122 laps.

Daniel Ricciardo steered Red Bull to the third quickest time, after the Australian had run for 66 laps and been just 1.173sec behind Perez. Felipe Massa was fourth in the Williams and Jenson Button followed for McLaren in fifth.

Saturday’s third tests were also open to the public and Massa raised the bar with the fastest lap of all the seven Bahrain sessions. The two-time race winner clocked a lap of 1min 33.258sec in the Williams, although Nico Rosberg was a mere two-tenths off the pace in his Mercedes.

Massa ran for 99 laps to carry out aero evaluations, set-up work and qualifying simulation. “I’m really happy with the car and feel and we found a good balance,” said Massa. “Of course you are always happy when you see your name at the top of in first place.”

Defending champion Sebastian Vettel had another horrific outing in the Red Bull. He stopped on track in the middle of his first lap and then could barely get his RB10 out of the pit lane for a second stint later in the day. Kimi Raikkonen was third quickest behind Massa and Rosberg.

Massa turned testing duties over to Valtteri Bottas on Sunday, but Hamilton set the pace with a quickest lap of 1min 33.278sec to finish testing just outside the time set by Massa. Bottas ran well to record the second fastest lap of 1min 33.987sec.

Alonso was third, but Red Bull continued to struggle. Vettel suffered a spin caused by apparent brake failure and ended the day in eighth place, over four seconds down on Hamilton.

The 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship gets underway with the Australian Grand Prix on March 16th, while the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix will take place on April 4-6.


For further information:
Firas Nimri, Mobile: + 962 777 282000, E-mail: nimrifiras@yahoo.com.


Date issued: 03/03/2014

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