F1 2014: Lewis Hamilton impresses in Bahrain pre-season testing as Red Bull struggle

2008 F1 champion Lewis Hamilton took his Mercedes to 1min 33.278sec having put in 69 laps, just two hundredths of a second off the best time of the four-day session at the Sakhir Circuit set by Felipe Massa in the resurgent Williams.

Reported by: Agence France-Presse
Last updated on Monday, 03 March, 2014 21:06 IST
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Manama, Bahrain: Former world champion Lewis Hamilton will head for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in two weeks' time installed as an early title favourite after topping testing in Bahrain on Sunday.

The 2008 champion took his Mercedes to 1min 33.278sec having put in 69 laps, just two hundredths of a second off the best time of the four-day session at the Sakhir Circuit set by Felipe Massa in the resurgent Williams.

Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg was third fastest over the four days with Williams confirming their early promise with Valtteri Bottas the fourth fastest overall.

The top eight over the week was filled out by Fernando Alonso in a Ferrari, Sergio Perez in a Force India, Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari with Nico Hulkenberg next in the other Force India.

"The car is still very much a work in progress, but we've learnt a lot over the course of these last few weeks," said Hamilton, whose morning efforts were hampered by gearbox trouble.

"It was a tough start to the day but they managed to get the car turned around for me to complete some good laps in the afternoon, which was a fantastic effort."

With the season-opener taking place in Melbourne on March 16, world champions Red Bull are struggling.

Drivers champion Sebastian Vettel was only ninth fastest on Sunday with a best time of 1min 37.468sec although he did at least manage to complete 77 laps unlike Saturday when his Red Bull failed to make a single circuit.

But his time was still over four seconds off Hamilton's best.

Overall, Vettel was just 18th fastest over the four days, finishing ahead only of the two Caterhams and the struggling Lotus team.

"We cannot do the times that the guys at the top are doing for a couple of reasons, but at the moment we have bigger problems to solve than just the pace," Vettel told autosport.com.

"I'm not calling us favourites. We haven't done enough laps, the speed is not there compared to some other teams so we have to wait and see when we get to Australia."

Times on Sunday on the final day of Formula One pre-season testing at the Sakhir Circuit:

1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1:33.278 (69 laps), 2. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Williams) 1:33.987 (108), 3. Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari) 1:34.280 (74), 4. Nico H~CHECK~lkenberg (GER/Force India) 1:35.577 (74), 5. Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA/Toro Rosso) 1:35.701 (74), 6. Adrian Sutil (GER/Sauber) 1:36.467 (91), 7. Max Chilton (GBR/Marussia) 1:36.835 (61), 8. Esteban Gutiérrez (MEX/Sauber) 1:37.303 (86), 9. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull) 1:37.468 (77), 10. Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren) 1:38.111 (22), 11. Kamui Kobayashi (JPN/Caterham) 1:38.391 (106), 12. Romain Grosjean (FRA/Lotus) 1:39.302 (32)

Best times of the four-day session, the last testing period before the season gets underway at the Australian Open in Melbourne on March 16:

1. Felipe Massa (BRA/Williams) 1:33.258 (202), 2. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1:33.278 (158), 3. Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes) 1:33.484 (192), 4. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Williams) 1:33.987 (219), 5. Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari) 1:34.280 (196), 6. Sergio Pérez (MEX/Force India) 1:35.290 (199), 7. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari) 1:35.426 (128), 8. Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Force India) 1:35.577 (189), 9. Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA/Toro Rosso) 1:35.701 (135), 10. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull) 1:35.743 (98),

11. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/McLaren) 1:35.894 (197), 12. Daniil Kvyat (RUS/Toro Rosso) 1:36.113 (137), 13. Adrian Sutil (GER/Sauber) 1:36.467 (153), 14. Max Chilton (GBR/Marussia) 1:36.835 (99), 15. Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren) 1:36.901 (74), 16. Jules Bianchi (FRA/Marussia) 1:37.087 (153), 17. Esteban Gutierrez (MEX/Sauber) 1:37.303 (192), 18. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull) 1:37.468 (78), 19. Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Caterham) 1:38.083 (172), 20. Kamui Kobayashi (JPN/Caterham) 1:38.391 (123), 21. Romain Grosjean (FRA/Lotus) 1:39.302 (65), 22. Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Lotus) 1:40.599 (62)

Number of laps per team:

1. Williams 421 laps, 2. Force India 388, 3. Mercedes 350, 4. Ferrari 324, 5. Caterham 295, 6. Toro Rosso 272, 7. McLaren 271, 8. Marussia 252, 9. Sauber 245, 10. Red Bull 176, 11. Lotus 127

Story first published on: Monday, 03 March 2014 21:01 IST

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