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Bahrain F1 test: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes end winter on top

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain F1 test, February 2014

Lewis Hamilton returned Mercedes to the top of the times while Red Bull's struggles continued during the final pre-season Formula 1 test of 2014 in Bahrain.

The 2008 world champion made a late start, after losing most of the morning to a gearbox issue on the W05, but worked his way to the top of the times as the afternoon progressed.

He fell just 0.02 seconds short of beating Felipe Massa's Sakhir circuit pre-season benchmark from Saturday's test and bumped Massa's Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas from the top spot, after the Finn had led the way for most of the day before stopping on the start-finish straight with a mechanical issue.

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Sebastian Vettel endured another frustrating day in Red Bull's RB10, suffering what the team described as "a mechanical issue at the front of the car", which pitched the world champion off at Turn 1 before lunch.

The German returned to the track in the afternoon, and racked up a total of 77 laps, but at reduced pace.

He wound up ninth fastest thanks to late improvements under the floodlights, but still over four seconds off Hamilton.

Fernando Alonso set Ferrari's fastest time of pre-season around the Sakhir circuit to go third fastest, after the F14 T caused one of eight red flags across the day when Alonso stopped at Turn 12.

Bahrain F1 testing gallery

Romain Grosjean's Lotus, Jenson Button's McLaren, and Nico Hulkenberg's Force India all suffered engine failures that curtailed their running early, while clutch issues forced Kamui Kobayashi's Caterham to stop prematurely too.

Jean-Eric Vergne enjoyed arguably Toro Rosso's most successful day of pre-season, clocking 74 laps and the fifth fastest time.

Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez split driving duties in the Sauber and racked up more laps between them (177) than anyone else.

Electrical dramas delayed Max Chilton, but the Brit made a late surge to seventh on the timesheet, splitting the Sauber drivers with Marussia's fastest lap of pre-season around this track.

Pos  Driver             Team/Car              Time       Gap      Laps
 1.  Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes              1m33.278s           70
 2.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes     1m33.987s  +0.709s  108
 3.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari               1m34.280s  +1.002s  74
 4.  Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes  1m35.577s  +2.299s  74
 5.  Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso-Renault    1m35.701s  +2.423s  74
 6.  Adrian Sutil       Sauber-Ferrari        1m36.467s  +3.189s  91
 7.  Max Chilton        Marussia-Ferrari      1m36.835s  +3.557s  61
 8.  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber-Ferrari        1m37.303s  +4.025s  86
 9.  Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull-Renault      1m37.468s  +4.190s  77
10.  Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes      1m38.111s  +4.833s  22
11.  Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham-Renault      1m38.391s  +5.113s  106
12.  Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault         1m39.302s  +6.024s  32
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