Sergio Perez led the opening day of the final preseason test in Bahrain for Force India as most teams focused on shaking down new parts.
In what is a crucial four days for all the teams before the opening race in Melbourne in just over two weeks, the Mexican’s 1:35.290 in the morning meant very little overall.
Instead the focus has switched to longer runs and testing new parts as what is expected to be one of the fastest paced development races ever begins.
On the distance front it was another Mercedes powered team that led the pack as Valtteri Bottas completed 128 laps for Williams, the Finn also finished second on the timings albeit as mentioned his 1:36.0 means very little.
Two other teams managed to clock over 550 km on the first with Kevin Magnussen tallying 109 laps in the McLaren MP4-28 and Perez also completing 104 laps in the pace-setting VJM07.
For Ferrari and Mercedes to emphasis was on trying new upgrades as the Scuderia notably brought a new front wing while the Silver Arrow focused more on cooling with new vents and design around the sidepods and a larger cooling outlet at the rear of the car around the new exhaust.
As the Ferrari and Mercedes powered teams continue to dominate the same cannot be said for those with Renault units.
Despite a good start Red Bull were restricted to just 35 laps as cooling issues persisted with the RB10, during those laps Daniel Ricciardo had knocked two seconds off his best from last week getting into the 1:37′s, the team confirmed that despite pushing harder it was not the Renault unit that was to blame.
Meanwhile at the other leading Renault team, Lotus, a new exhaust system was to blame for an early end to proceedings limiting Pastor Maldonado to 31 laps, while at Caterham an early break down and further issues throughout the day meant Kamui Kobayashi came last on both the lap and times sheets.
The final team in focus today was Marussia, after being struck with a computer virus last week, Max Chilton was able to get back on track turning 44-laps and finishing eighth overall a second ahead of Caterham’s best time during Bahrain testing so far and ahead of the likes of Lotus and Toro Rosso on the day.
In conclusion then today was a prelude to bigger things coming in the final three days particularly from the Mercedes and Ferrari powered teams, however, for the likes of Red Bull, Lotus and Caterham major challenges remain.
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