|© AP Photo/Hasan Jamali
Mercedes ended the second pre-season test at Bahrain blowing away its rivals with the fastest time recorded in the four days while its rivals continued to face problems, placing the German manufacturer comfortably with the favourite tag for this year's championship.
While Nico Rosberg's quickest time came during a qualifying simulation earlier in the day, Red Bull continued to struggle to put a series of laps together and Ferrari's day ended with Kimi Raikkonen crashing into the barriers.
"I could attack the lap a bit as I found a good balance," reported Rosberg, whose time was 1.6 seconds faster than McLaren's Jenson Button.
Mercedes-powered outfits piled on the mileage with the factory team even conducting a race simulation in the afternoon, although it did suffer from two red flag stoppages, both for different reasons but neither of which are insurmountable. Even Williams was confident of clocking over a 100 laps with its newly-appointed reserve driver Felipe Nasr had it not been for the red flags.
"There was a lot of feedback from the engineers, so my head was full of information!" remarked Rosberg.
Mercedes did have a few reliability niggles but it was far from the problems Red Bull faced as its running was hampered by software issues discovered during the morning session and another mechanical issue later in the day.
RENAULT "SOME WEEKS BEHIND"
"In all honesty it wasn't a great day," confessed Daniel Ricciardo. "I guess we still need more time... At this stage we just need laps and I'm just hanging to get back in the car."
Red Bull's sister team Toro Rosso's paltry 19 laps did little to liven up expectations in the Renault camp.
"There's no point in making negative comments, because everyone knows we are facing major problems and we are not alone in that," Jean-Eric Vergne pointed out. "It's frustrating, but we need to keep calm and not get stressed as there are still a few weeks before Melbourne."
Despite the set-backs, Renault Sport F1 reasoned that it had "taken several steps forward" in Bahrain as it had "ironed out some important faults" that had surfaced in the opening test in Spain last month.
"We are now in a situation we could have accepted mid-Jerez," said Rob White, Renault Sport F1 deputy managing director (technical). "We have solved some problems and revealed some others.
"The challenge is to improve the rate of progress, because the gap to where we wanted to be at this stage remains substantial," he continued. "We are some weeks behind where we wanted to be, and we acknowledge it will take time to unlock the full performance of the power unit."
Among the other Renault-powered teams, Lotus ran relatively reliably although it had a few glitches on the way while Caterham managed just 22 laps.
"We're still very early on in our understanding of this car and we clearly have a lot of work to do, but today has been our most productive day so far," summed up Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane.
Ferrari had a productive day and got fully through its planned technical programme, despite the fact Raikkonen hit the barriers when there were five minutes remaining, which brought its test to a premature end.
"I spun on the kerb at the exit of Turn 4, these things can happen!" Raikkonen said. "Luckily, it was right at the end of the day, I'm only sorry because it means the team now has more work to do."
A drivetrain issue held back Force India and Sauber was mostly confined in the garage after a problem with an interior part of the monocoque, forcing the team in the time consuming process of changing the chassis.
Marussia too was afflicted as it experienced a continuation of some component reliability issues with Jules Bianchi failing to set a time.