F1 2014: Hamilton third fastest in Bahrain testing

PUBLISHED: 17:43 19 February 2014 | UPDATED: 15:08 20 February 2014

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

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Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton was third fastest on day one of pre-season testing in Bahrain - but stressed Mercedes' main focus is reliability.

Following the launch of the 2014 challenger in Jerez, Spain, the Mercedes AMG Petronas team continued its pre-season testing programme at the Bahrain International Circuit today (Wednesday), with Hertfordshire-born racer Hamilton taking the wheel of the F1 W05.

Hamilton’s best time of 1m 37.908s was good enough for third place on the timesheets behind Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso.

Mercedes’ focus was to optimise running on the hard tyre in temperatures more suited to race conditions.

Hamilton completed two 20-lap stints, with the team taking a close look at tyre performance and car data.

Bahrain pre-season testing

Day One times

1 Nico Hülkenberg (Force India) 1:36.880

2 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 1:37.879

3 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:37.908

4 Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) 1:38.295

5 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:40.224

6 Adrian Sutil (Sauber) 1:40.443

7 Robin Frijns (Caterham) 1:42.534

8 Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) 1:44.346

9 Romain Grosjean (Lotus) 1:44.832

10 Felipe Massa (Williams) No time

11 Jules Bianchi (Marussia) No time

A brake issue ended the programme slightly early, but Mercedes officials are confident this will be fixed in time for tomorrow’s running.

Hamilton, the 2008 F1 world champion, said: “It’s been impressive to see us start the Bahrain test with good mileage and reliability, especially when you see how difficult it is for everyone with the new regulations.

“The team can be very proud of this after so much hard work.

“Today was another good test of the car to see if any issues came up. We had a small issue with the brakes at the end but were still able to achieve a lot of laps today.”

The 29-year-old Silver Arrows star put a consistent 74 laps on the board.

Hamilton said: “We’re not aiming to be top of the timesheets at the moment, it’s more about ticking the reliability boxes, but we can be happy with where we are before the halfway point of the pre-season tests.”

Mercedes technical supremo Paddy Lowe added: “We ran our programme as expected today until the running came to a conclusion slightly earlier than we would have liked with a brake issue.

“We did get through all of the planned data logging runs and the lap count was high.

“There is a great deal still to be done and a lot of the things we’ve been focusing on during the break since Jerez are working as intended.

“That is a great credit to the team working on the car at the factory and at the track to carry on from where we left off at the last test.”

Hamilton’s colleague Nico Rosberg will be in the Mercedes car tomorrow (Thursday) for the second day of the test.

Lowe added: “We look forward to doing more long runs in consistent weather conditions.”

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