|© AP Photo/Hasan Jamali
After making "significant progress" on Friday, Red Bull suffered a severe setback after it failed to complete a single lap on the penultimate day of the final pre-season test in Bahrain on Saturday.
Delayed by some two hours, Sebastian Vettel finally managed to venture out on the track only to stop after four corners with an electrical problem. After the crew worked further on the car for about 45 minutes, the defending world champion could cover no more than the distance of the pit lane. A leak and resultant damage consequently kept the RB10 in the garage for the rest of the day.
"It's not the best situation to be in but we can't change it," Vettel said. "Everybody is extremely motivated to fix it, but it doesn’t happen overnight."
Although another day of testing is remaining, Vettel's hopes nevertheless rests on the remedies that would be introduced in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix later this month.
"I think some things will just come down to the fact that in two weeks' time we'll have lots of new parts on the car," he said. "We've had some damage because of the problems we've had here and the parts aren’t available overnight, so from that side I think things will get better over the next couple of weeks."
Kimi Raikkonen had hoped to do more than his 87 laps on his final day of testing but a problem relating to a connector confined the Ferrari to the garage for most of the morning.
For the third straight day, Lotus ended its session with more or less the same distance covered in each outing. This time a power unit problem - relating to the MGU-K - curtailed Romain Grosjean's running leaving the team's preparations wanting for more.
"This doesn't mean that everything is lost or that it will be impossible for us to win races, but certainly we are behind schedule," said an optimistic Grosjean, who was delayed in the morning as well due to a wiring issue.
It was a bad day for Sauber as well as an anomaly on the engine forced the team to change it as a precautionary measure. Since the switch would have taken a considerably long time, the team decided to focus its programme on Sunday.
"It shows how complex the new car and powertrain are and that we are exploring them to the limits," said Adrian Sutil, who could manage no more than a solitary lap.
MERCEDES POWERS ON
In contrast, all four Mercedes-powered teams continued their programmes strongly. McLaren lost track time early in the day but covered up adequate mileage before the end.
"We're not quite there yet, but we have more to come," said Kevin Magnussen. "Our car feels like it has potential - unlike last year's car, where you could feel its problems when you were driving. This year, it feels like an F1 car.
"I don't feel uncomfortable going into a Grand Prix now," added the rookie.
Concentrating on performance, which included a full qualifying simulation, Felipe Massa posted the quickest time of the day and managed nearly 100 laps in the Williams.
A precautionary engine change after an inspection of high-mileage components at Mercedes led to a delay in the morning but Nico Rosberg still managed to cover a relatively trouble-free 103 laps and register the second quickest time.
Force India, which had topped the charts on the previous two days, clocked the second most mileage for the day after Nico Hulkenberg completed 115 laps.