Massa on top for Williams, Vettel sidelined

Sat Mar 1, 2014 2:07pm EST
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(Reuters) - Brazilian Felipe Massa put Williams on top on the penultimate day of pre-season testing in Bahrain on Saturday while Red Bull's quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel failed to complete a lap.

Massa, who moved from Ferrari at the end of last year, completed 99 laps in the Mercedes-powered FW36 car and set the fastest time yet in seven days of testing at the Sakhir desert circuit.

"I'm really happy with the car and feel we found a good balance," said the 32-year-old, who carried out a full qualifying simulation on supersoft tires towards the end of the afternoon.

"You can never be sure that you are 100 percent ready for the first race but I feel that what we have done in these days testing has been important for making sure that we have a car that can not only get to the end of the race but that will have good performance as well."

Vettel's car broke down with an electrical problem on its first lap out of the garage. He tried again later but only made it to the end of the pitlane before stopping again.

The German then helped marshals push it back to the Red Bull mechanics, who diagnosed a leak that had also damaged other parts.

"It's not the best situation to be in but we can't change it," said the 26-year-old. "Everybody is extremely motivated to fix it but it doesn't happen overnight.

"At this stage obviously reliability is still a big question mark. It's difficult to say how long it will take to remedy."

The season starts in Melbourne on March 16 and reliability is the key concern for teams facing the biggest technical upheaval in a generation thanks to the introduction of a new turbocharged V6 engine and energy recovery systems.   Continued...

Williams Formula One driver Felipe Massa of Brazil drives his car during day three of Formula One's final pre-season test at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir south of Manama, March 1, 2014. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed