Felipe Massa sets fastest time of pre-season in Bahrain as Red Bull struggle again

Williams finish over two tenths clear of opposition; Mercedes continue to look strong; Red Bull fail to complete a lap

By William Esler.   Last Updated: 02/03/14 11:30am

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Felipe Massa finished Day Three of the final pre-season test with the fastest time in Bahrain thus far, but it was Red Bull who once again made the headlines with unreliability issues.

The World Champions officially recorded just one lap on the timing screens - but all bar four corners of it were on the back of a recovery lorry after Sebastian Vettel's RB10 rolled to a halt.

Having recovered the car and spent around 45 minutes working on the car in the garage, Red Bull then sent Vettel out once again. However, this time he only made it as far as the pit exit.

Speaking ahead of the four-time Champion's fleeting appearance, Team Principal Christian Horner told Rachel Brookes on Sky Sports News that they "are about ten days behind" after ten days of running and the team certainly didn't gain any valuable mileage on the 11th and penultimate day of pre-season running.

Worryingly for a team that had appeared to turn a corner when Daniel Ricciardo managed 66 laps on Friday, their problems appear to be of their own making rather than being caused by Renault; Caterham racked up over 100 laps using the French manufactuer's power unit while junior team Toro Rosso managed 81 laps with Daniil Kvyat.

Sebastian Vettel suffered two early break downs

For Massa and Williams, however, the 2014 renaissance continues with his 1:33.258 the quickest time any driver has set thus far in either of the Bahrain tests. The Grove team have impressed throughout pre-season testing - particularly with their reliability - and 99 laps for the Brazilian on Saturday brought their total mileage this year to over 4000km.

Mercedes also continue to look strong as Nico Rosberg completed 103 laps without any major problems, albeit with a fastest time on supersoft tyres that was over two tenths slower than Massa's best - the German later admitting he was a qualifying simulation.

Kimi Raikkonen was third quickest for Ferrari, completing 87 laps in total after a quiet morning on what was his final day in the car before Practice One in Melbourne. The Finn's best time - posted on the supersoft tyres - was over two seconds slower than the man he replaced at the Scuderia, however.

He was followed by the rookies at McLaren and Force India as both Kevin Magnussen and Kvyat clocked up nearly 90 laps for their respective teams.

Having seen team-mate Sergio Perez top the opening two days of the final test, Nico Hulkenberg was only sixth fastest for Force India - three seconds slower than Massa. However, the German did manage 115 laps for the Silverstone-based team.

Marussia were next up, with Jules Bianchi a second clear of Marcus Ericsson in the Caterham. The Swede was the busiest man of the day, racking up 117 laps.

Romain Grosjean was ninth fastest for Lotus having managed 33 laps before the team were forced to end their day 90 minutes early after encountering reliability problems.

Adrian Sutil caught fire after one lap

That was significantly more, however, than both Sauber and Red Bull who completed the timesheet - Adrian Sutil's C33 catching fire after his installation lap.

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