Felipe Massa put Williams on the top of the Formula One testing board on Saturday at the Bahrain Int’l Circuit.
The Brazilian was fastest as the teams paused for lunch and lowered the bar again in the afternoon. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg briefly knocked the FW36 off the top spot, but a late day surge returned Massa to the top of the timesheet.
“We had a very good day today doing almost 100 laps,” Massa said. “We did a lot more performance work in the car which is something that we haven’t done so much of so far.
“I’m really happy with the car and feel we found a good balance. We did so much work on the set-up but it is very important that we go to Australia prepared. Of course you are always happy when you see your name at the top in first place, but as well as performance, today was good for the mileage and reliability of the car which we know is needed for Australia.”
While Massa and the Williams team excelled, troubles continued for defending Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing.
Red Bull had hoped to carry over momentum from Friday, their best test day of the year so far. However, when Vettel headed out on track three hours into the session he was forced almost immediately to return pitside.
The car ventually emerged again just before lunch, but this time Vettel made it only to the end of the pit lane. The car would remain in the garage for the rest of the day.
“Given how well the car behaved yesterday we were anticipating a solid run for Seb today but almost as soon as he went out there was an electrical problem, which meant stopped him on track,” said Red Bull’s race engineering co-ordinator Andy Damerum. “We brought the car back, identified the issue, which is one other teams have had but which hadn’t affected us so far, and set about fixing it. We got ready for another run but this time the car stopped in pit lane. We brought it back again and discovered a leak, which we thought we could fix but it turned out that it had caused enough damage that we weren’t able to go out again.”
Nico Rosberg ended Saturday’s test session second fastest for Mercedes, followed by Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen and the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat.