Red Bull hit new testing low as Vettel fails to complete a lap

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Red Bull struggles continue in testing

Red Bull's preparations for the Formula 1 season hit a new low at the final pre-season test.

World champion Sebastian Vettel failed to complete one lap at Bahrain on Saturday, but still had two breakdowns in the troublesome RB10 car.

It took Red Bull 150 minutes to get him on the track, after which Vettel stopped four corners into his lap.

When the team attempted to send him out again, the car broke down in the pit lane. That was it for the day.

Vettel, 26, said: "We obviously have lots of different problems we are curing. It's not the best situation to be in but we can't change it.

Red Bull on back foot - Horner

"Everybody is extremely motivated to fix it, but it doesn't happen overnight. We can just hope for a better day tomorrow and then to have a decent start to the season in Melbourne, but at this stage obviously reliability is still a big question mark."

The fastest time of the penultimate day of running before the first race of the season in Australia on 16 March was set by Williams's Felipe Massa.

The ex-Ferrari driver set a time of one minute 33.258 seconds while focusing on low-fuel performance runs, 0.226secs quicker than Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg managed on a similar plan.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was third, 2.168secs off the pace, from McLaren's Kevin Magnussen, Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg.

Lotus also had a difficult day, with Franco-Swiss Romain Grosjean completing only 33 laps and setting the ninth fastest time amid a series of problems before the team ended their running because of an issue with the kinetic energy-recovery motor generator unit.

Lotus, who skipped the first pre-season test in January because their car was not ready, have done fewer miles than any other team in testing.

But their plight has been overshadowed by that of Red Bull, who continue to stagger from problem to problem.

Vettel said: "There's no point being too emotional at this stage. We really have to take it step by step.

"We know how serious it is, especially inside the team - on Renault's side and our side.

"We know that it's a difficult time but everyone is aware of that and motivated to get out of it, get going and find out where we are."

The team said that a battery problem had stopped Vettel out on the track, and that the pit-lane stop was caused by a leak which damaged the car sufficiently to prevent him from going out again.

Not managing to complete a single lap made this the worst day of the 11 testing sessions so far. Vettel's previous lowest mileage was three laps at the first test in Jerez, Spain.

Red Bull have suffered a series of problems this winter as they try to get on top of the first car they have designed to the biggest set of rule changes in a generation.

Some have been related to the new turbo hybrid engine, with which Renault have admitted they are behind.

Team principal Christian Horner told BBC Sport on Saturday he did not know how long it would take to solve the problems.

He added he was confident the car would be competitive.

"We'll see in Melbourne where we are and then we'll work from there," Horner said. "Our approach is heads down, focus on ourselves, sort our own issues out."

Not all of the Renault teams struggled on day three of the final Bahrain test, however.

Kvyat did 81 laps and Caterham's Marcus Ericsson 117, including a full race-distance simulation, and ran trouble-free all day.

Meanwhile, the Mercedes teams and Ferrari continued to rack up the miles.

Mercedes, the pre-season favourites, completed 103 laps with Rosberg, while Raikkonen completed a race-simulation run as part of his 87 laps for Ferrari.

The Williams, which is using a Mercedes engine for the first time this year, looks impressively fast as well as reliable. The team had the worst season in their history in 2013, but Massa edged Rosberg to the fastest time on the same type of tyres - the grippiest 'super-soft'.

However, the fuel loads they were on are not made public, and can make up to about three seconds' difference.

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