For the third day in a row, Brazil’s Felipe Massa went fastest in testing while developing his Ferrari F2007. Although Massa only completed half a days testing lapping the Sakhir circuit 45 times, he still managed to set a time 0.4s faster than his nearest rival today. That rival was a surprise upturn in performance from the Renault squad, and it was Heikki Kovalainen who pipped team mate Giancarlo Fisichella to second place, the difference being 0.1s. Although both Renault’s suffered mechanical failures during the day, the team advised reporters at the circuit that the parts in question were beyond their normal mileage and thus the Anglo-French squad are not concerned.
Kimi Raikkonen underlined the pace of the Ferrari by finishing the day in fourth, just 0.5s shy of Massa’s lap time after 77 turns of Bahrain’s dusty track. Just behind the Finn was Fernando Alonso in the McLaren, who appeared to be a little off-form today after consistently being towards the top of the timing sheets all winter. However, the McLaren clearly has a lot of pace, and test driver Pedro De La Rosa finished in seventh.
Rubens Barrichello enjoyed a boost today as he completed 118 laps (only beaten by Scott Speed who completed 124) and went home in sixth. The Toro Rosso again went faster than the Red Bulls, this time in the hands of American driver Scott Speed, who, as mentioned, had a long day behind the wheel. David Coulthard wasn’t too far behind lapping just 0.089s slower, and fellow ‘Bull driver Mark Webber finished in eleventh a further 0.2s behind.
BMW were another team that didn’t look as spectacular as before, with Nick Heidfeld leading Robert Kubica in tenth and twelfth respectively. Toyota languished towards the bottom again with the sole Super Aguri of Takuma Sato. The only oddity at the bottom of the tables was Jenson Button’s Honda, although the British driver was concentrating on race starts and simulated qualifying runs.
This was the final day at Bahrain before the teams head out to Australia to acclimatise themselves to the Albert Park track and facilities in preparation for the season start in a fortnight. Ferrari will be shaking down their intended race cars on the 8th March, which will be carried out by experienced tester Luca Badoer at the teams Fiorano circuit. Toyota are squeezing in a late test at Jerez next week, but apart from that this is pretty much the end of testing before Melbourne.
1. Massa – Ferrari – 1m29.989s
2. Kovalainen – Renault – 1m30.384s
3. Fisichella – Renault – 1m30.498s
4. Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1m30.534s
5. Alonso – McLaren – 1m30.564s
6. Barrichello – Honda – 1m31.067s
7. De La Rosa – McLaren – 1m31.354s
8. Speed – Toro Rosso – 1m31.500s
9. Coulthard – Red Bull Racing – 1m31.589s
10. Heidfeld – BMW – 1m31.720s
11. Webber – Red Bull Racing – 1m31.742s
12. Kubica – BMW – 1m31.751s
13. Schumacher – Toyota – 1m31.791s
14. Button – Honda – 1m31.837s
15. Montagny – Toyota – 1m32.264s
16. Sato – Super Aguri – 1m33.337s
Motication – Alonso, Raikkonen, Massa