|© AP Photo/Hasan Jamali
Red Bull had its most successful day of testing after the champions managed to complete 66 laps to feature third in the time sheets in Bahrain on Friday.
Troubled throughout the course of the pre-season tests, Daniel Ricciardo was able to provide the team vital mileage although rivals powered by Mercedes managed to feature on the track a lot more.
Sergio Perez was quickest for the second straight day in his Force India ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who completed a mammoth 122 laps.
"600 kilometres are always welcome, but it's still too early to say we are a hundred percent ready for Melbourne," Alonso said.
Although Red Bull completed just over half the distance managed by Ferrari, it can take respite in its sister team Toro Rosso, also powered by Renault, which added 61 laps to its tally along with engine mapping work.
Red Bull hailed its efforts as a "significant progress", even managing to get in some pit stop practice and conduct a number of background tests and aerodynamic evaluations on the way even though it was delayed in the morning.
"We also did one long run at the end, which was very important, just to see how the car is behaving with the tyres," reported Ricciardo referring to the run of 20 timed laps, the team's longest so far.
ISSUES FOR MERCEDES, McLAREN
While Force India and Williams emerged as the most reliable among the Mercedes runners on Friday, the works team and McLaren suffered.
Lewis Hamilton had a "fairly average day" after his running was curtailed with 90 minutes remaining due to a gearbox problem. A failure in the ERS system also delayed his run during the final stint, with the team now afflicted by reliability niggles for the second day in a row.
"There are no specific problem areas, just lots of different things we need to improve," said Hamilton, who had a spin earlier in the day. "It might be frustrating at times but finding (problems) at this stage is actually a positive."
McLaren too had a gearbox issue with the resultant repairs keeping the car from the track for much of the day.
"It was a shame to lose that time – it's the first major issue we've had this winter," Jenson Button pointed out.
Lotus covered the least number of laps. Pastor Maldonado could do no more than the distance he had done on the preceding day after a localised fire in the rear of the car, that caused a reasonable amount of damage, ended his session prematurely.
The test will end on Sunday.