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LIVE COMMENTARY: BAHRAIN THIRD 2014 TEST - TEST DAY THREE
   GO TO LIVE INDEX ALL TIMES GMT  
As it happened: Test day three
By Matt Beer, Glenn Freeman, Ben Anderson and Dan Cross
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
05:41 Good morning and welcome to AUTOSPORT Live's coverage of the penultimate day of pre-season Formula 1 testing for 2014.

05:45 So far this week it's been all Force India at the top of the timesheets, with Sergio Perez flying to the fastest lap on both Thursday and Friday.

Here's a full recap of what went on yesterday:

Bahrain test day two full report

But the big news wasn't the man in first place yesterday, but the man in third, as Red Bull's winter finally began to (seemingly) turn around.

Daniel Ricciardo was just a tenth off the pace and managed 66 laps, a vast improvement on previous days.

05:47 Perez and Ricciardo's winter running is now done, they can step out of the cockpit until Melbourne in just under a fortnight.

This is the driver line-up we're expecting to see today:

Red Bull - Sebastian Vettel
Mercedes - Nico Rosberg
Ferrari - Kimi Raikkonen
Lotus - Romain Grosjean
McLaren - Kevin Magnussen
Force India - Nico Hulkenberg
Sauber - Adrian Sutil
Toro Rosso - Daniil Kvyat
Williams - Felipe Massa
Marussia - Jules Bianchi
Caterham - Kamui Kobayashi

05:51 Mercedes has had the smoothest winter but its drivers have constantly reiterated that it's not above problems, and here's a reminder as the team announces a late start for Rosberg today:

"It'll be a delayed start for @nico_rosberg today; overnight inspection of high-mileage components has led to a precautionary engine change."

05:53 Engine changes are much bigger job with these new-for 2014 units, so it will be interesting to see how soon the F1 W05 can be ready for action.

Daniel Ricciardo06:01 Red Bull newboy Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed his most productive day of testing so far yesterday, and sounds more optimistic about the team's chances after a difficult pre-season so far.

Team-mate Sebastian Vettel takes over driving duties today.

@danielricciardo: "Good progress on track yesterday. The guys been working hard. Hope we can finish off the test strong & continue to learn about the new beast."

06:01 The penultimate day of pre-season testing is up and running.

Magnussen, Hulkenberg and Bianchi are first out on track.

06:03 The weather is slightly clearer here today. Air temperature is 23C, track 38C.

06:11 Late start for Caterham, after a fiery end to yesterday's test for Marcus Ericsson.

@CaterhamF1: "We're nearly ready to start day three with @Ericsson_Marcus in the car. The boys have done a great job overnight to repair the car, working flat out to make sure we can continue the program today"

06:11 Sutil has a smokey end to his installation lap as he approaches the pitlane. The car loses drive just as he gets to the pit entry, but he manages to roll out of harm's way. Marshals are now attending to the Sauber, having got to work with fire extinguishers as soon as the car came to a rest.

06:11 The Sauber mechanics have arrived and are pushing the C33 back to the garage.

06:17 The engine coming out of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes as a precaution has been in the car since the first day of the previous Bahrain test. That means its racked up 2667km of running before being replaced.

06:18 @Marussia_F1Team: "We'll be working on a mix of short and long runs, brake evaluations, all in tandem with an aero development programme."

06:20 Force India has topped the first two days of this test with Sergio Perez, and his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg is the first driver to set a time today.

The Silverstone-based squad had a productive couple of days with Perez, starting each day with setup work before switching to race simulation in the afternoon.

06:21 Magnussen joins the leaderboard with a 1m41.006s, two seconds adrift of Hulkenberg's 1m38.845s.

06:21 The McLaren rookie improves next time round to a 1m40.486s.

Kevin Magnussen06:24 And again the next time around, to 1m40.252s.

06:25 Bianchi is the next man to join the timesheets for today.

06:28 Nearly 30 minutes in the books here and we've seen six drivers on track - Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Bianchi, Raikkonen, Sutil, Massa.

06:39 Surely for the first time this pre-season (if not ever), a Marussia leads the lap count. Bianchi is the first driver to reach double figures for the day.

06:42 Kvyat and Ericsson now have installation laps in the books, and Massa logs his first time in the Williams.

06:44 Talking of Williams - look out for some decent laptimes from the FW36 today...

@WilliamsF1Team: "For Felipe's final preseason test day we are focusing on performance - although we still have plenty to test each run! #Bahrain"

AUTOSPORT06:48 Ericsson gets his first time of the day chalked up, putting him fourth.

The Swede is the subject of an exclusive interview in this week's AUTOSPORT magazine - available in shops and in digital form now - where he talks about turning last season's GP2 disappointments into the chance to be his nation's first F1 driver in 23 years.

06:53 The Caterham has the track to itself at the moment.

06:56 The three cars we haven't seen so far today are the Mercedes, the Lotus and the Red Bull.

We already know that Mercedes is busy working on an engine change (see 05:51), and Lotus had quite a serious repair job on its hands last night after what the team described as "some char-grilling" to some of the E22's internals on track yesterday.

06:58 Ericsson pits, leaving today's current top two - Hulkenberg and Massa - on track.

07:01 Massa's latest "performance work" leads to a new benchmark for today, as he edges Hulkenberg out by 0.2s.

07:02 Unlike his first run, Massa stays out for another attempt this time. The lap is 0.7s slower than his best, although he sets a new quickest time through the final sector of the lap.

07:04 Hulkenberg is clearly on a different programme with Force India at the moment - while Massa continues to lap around 1m39s, the VJM07 is more than 10s slower.

07:06 We get a proper lap from Hulkenberg that time. He winds things up with a new best through the first sector, then crosses the line one second down on his current PB.

07:08 Massa's run was another short one, and he is back in. Hulkenberg drops 0.2s on the next lap of his run, as Bianchi heads out to join him and 'defend' his place at the top of the lap count.

07:11 After a stay of just over 20 minutes in the pits since his three sighting laps, Raikkonen takes the Ferrari back out.

The Finn has suffered more difficulties with the F14 T than Fernando Alonso so far this pre-season, and earlier this week he made it clear that he wants to get a race simulation under his belt today - his final day of running before the Australian GP.

07:14 Sauber says that it is "investigating the issue" that caused Sutil to come to a smokey halt in the pit entry at the end of his installation lap earlier.

07:18 Kvyat gets a time on the board in the Toro Rosso, putting him fourth.

07:20 For those of you just joining us (we forgive you, as it's Saturday), here's a round-up of the morning so far:

*Massa sets the pace as Williams works on performance
*Mercedes delayed by engine change
*Sutil comes to a smokey stop at end of installation lap
*No sign of Red Bull or Lotus yet

07:25 Massa, Kvyat, Ericsson and Bianchi are on track at the moment. The Toro Rosso has just found another tenth of a second to move to 1m41.6s.

07:31 It's all looking much better for Massa and Williams at the moment than it is for reigning champion Red Bull, but the Brazilian reckons anyone writing off Sebastian Vettel's team is foolish.

"It is always nice to say that a Red Bull is struggling and that maybe it can be fighting with the Caterhams, but forget it. It's not like that."

Here's more from Massa on that topic and his testing programme for today:

Don't write off Red Bull, says Massa

Adrian Sutil07:34 We've been talking this morning about Sutil's Sauber arriving back in the pits in smokey fashion. Now here's some photographic evidence of it.

07:37 As Bianchi continues to build mileage in the Marussia, here's the lap tally for today so far:

Bianchi (Marussia) 34
Hulkenberg (Force India) 20
Ericsson (Caterham) 17
Massa (Williams) 14
Kvyat (Toro Rosso) 14
Magnussen (McLaren) 7
Raikkonen (Ferrari) 4
Sutil (Sauber) 1
Vettel (Red Bull) 0
Grosjean (Lotus) 0
Rosberg (Mercedes) 0

07:37 Naturally, as soon as we build the team up for logging laps, it calls Bianchi in and the track falls silent.

07:40 With just one more day of testing to come after this, a lot of focus is on those who are running out of time to get ready for the Australian GP.

Renault certainly falls into that bracket, and here's what its head of track operations Remi Taffin makes of the French firm's progress:

"I would say [the engine is running] cleaner...not 100 per cent. If I was driving the car, I would be complaining but we know what we have to work on.

"There is still quite a lot of room to play with because the target is to try to get to the level of the V8, which we know was very, very good in terms of driveability."

07:41 The silence is broken by the sound of an engine, but it's not a Renault. Hulkenberg heads back out in the Mercedes-powered Force India.

07:44 Hulkenberg opens this run with a 1m40.4s, as today's pacesetter Massa takes to the track as well.

07:45 A brief spell of light cloud cover earlier dropped the track temperature from above 40C to the low 30s. But the sun is beating down again, and that figure is up to 42C now.

Air temperature is 25C.

07:47 Massa gets straight on with it, starting this run with a best lap that is 1.4s better than his previous benchmark. He's now into the 1m37s bracket.

07:48 Hulkenberg is clearly focused on something closer to race specification, lapping in the low 1m41s. That's the kind of pace we were seeing Rosberg average during a Mercedes race simulation last week.

07:52 Massa backs off, then returns to something near a representative time with a 1m43s, and then pushes again on the lap after that with another 1m37s.

This time he's half a second down on his best, on a lap where he set a new fastest time through the first sector.

07:54 Raikkonen - yet to post a time this morning - is back on track after nearly 45 minutes in the pits.

The Finn's first lap of the day is a 1m41.5s.

07:56 @McLarenF1: "Working on the car after @KevinMagnussen's early laps. Car is running, but we want to check out a small problem before going out again."

07:59 Raikkonen didn't stay out for long after posting his first time of the day. Kvyat and Ericsson are the only cars on track, and the Russian has just improved by another 0.4s.

Jules Bianchi08:05 Bianchi, who still tops the lap count for today with 35, heads back out for more laps in the Marussia.

08:12 Yesterday there was a swirl of stories about Renault allegedly asking for F1's engine homologation deadline to be extended so it could tackle its current plight.

A deadline adjustment was discussed by F1's Strategy Group but rejected, but Renault was adamant that while it wouldn't have said no to more time, it didn't ask for it and doesn't need it.

Renault insists it doesn't need engine deadline extension

08:19 Still no sign of Mercedes, Lotus or Red Bull today. Mercedes is currently changing its engine - which has been in the car since the start of the previous Bahrain test, while Lotus had a big job on its hands overnight after the E22's internals suffered fire damage towards the end of yesterday.

Red Bull had its best day so far yesterday with Daniel Ricciardo getting a 20-lap stint under his belt and starting to show some pace in the RB10 (click here for story), but so far we are yet to see world champion Sebastian Vettel take to the track today.

08:23 Only the Marussia and Caterham blatting around at the moment. Hulkenberg is currently in the pits, but Force India confirms he is working on setting up the VJM07.

@clubforce: "Programme continues for Nico - the morning schedule features set-up work, tyre evaluation and balancing. It'll keep us busy!"

08:26 Hulkenberg heads back out as the Caterham and Marussia pit.

08:28 World champion Sebastian Vettel makes his first appearance of the final pre-season test, heading out in the Red Bull.

08:29 But the RB10 encounters a problem straight away, bringing out our first red flag of the day. The course car has picked up the Red Bull mechanics to take them to the car, which has stopped in the second sector.

08:37 The Red Bull garage is being primed for the arrival of the RB10. The mechanics are in position, the sight screens are ready, and the mobile crane is in position waiting for the car to return on the back of a truck.

08:38 A small crowd is gathering outside the garage, so the team has pushed its 'exclusion zone' all the way to the active lane of the pits.

08:40 The under-covers Red Bull is in the pits. The team has managed to let the flatbed truck into its pit bay so that it can surround it with screens even before the mobile crane lifts it off of the truck. F1 secrecy at its best...

08:41 Vettel - like most people in the paddock last night - must have been expecting to get down to business today after the progress the team made with Ricciardo at the wheel yesterday.

It took nearly two and a half hours for the RB10 to appear on track, and then it managed half a lap.

08:42 The car is back in the garage, and the sight screens are moved back into position out front.

08:43 After that top-secret recovery mission from Red Bull, the track is open again.

Red Bull08:43 AUTOSPORT tech expert CRAIG SCARBOROUGH says there has been plenty of evidence of Red Bull having overheating issues during this test.

"Yesterday, the RB10 featured makeshift ducting added to the sidepods. The team used both an inlet and outlet on each side of the car - seen in silver on the bottom of the sidepods in this shot from Friday.

"Where these lead is unclear, but being so low down, it's likely to be either to the ERS control units or the energy store (battery) under the fuel tank."

08:45 While Red Bull's senior team starts fixing the RB10 again, junior squad Toro Rosso sends Kvyat out for his 24th lap of the day.

08:46 Massa and Ericsson, who have both been busy today, get back to work on track as well.

08:47 Kvyat finds a couple of seconds and comfortably breaks the 1m40s barrier for the first time today.

08:48 The Lotus appears on track for the first time, with Romain Grosjean at the wheel. Let's see if his installation lap lasts longer than Vettel's did.

08:50 Success (of sorts) - Grosjean makes it back to the pits at the end of that lap.

08:52 Just before midday local time, Rosberg takes to the track for the first time today following that Mercedes engine change.

08:53 No messing about from Mercedes - Rosberg stays out at the end of his first lap.

08:55 Rosberg stays out to complete a lap at the first time of asking - who needs installation laps? He's straight under the 1m40s bracket and up to fourth in the standings.

08:58 We're three hours into the action here today, and here's a catch-up of what's happened so far:

*Vettel breaks down on outlap after late start for Red Bull
*Massa sets the pace as Williams focuses on performance
*Sutil comes to a smokey halt at the end of installation lap
*Mercedes starts late after engine change for Rosberg

08:58 With one flying lap on the board, Rosberg pits the Mercedes.

08:59 We've had one lap from the Lotus today, after an engine failure cut short Pastor Maldonado's running yesterday. EDD STRAW heard from Renault head of track operations Remi Taffin last night about the problem.

"It was an unexpected engine failure that we saw arriving on the data, but nothing we could do," said Taffin. "We know how to prevent this in the future. It is an expected problem for a turbocharged engine, but unexpected for us. It was not at all hardware related."

09:01 Time for our first reader question of the day. Remember you can ask F1 Editor EDD STRAW to answer any burning questions you have regarding testing by emailing live@autosport.com or tweet using #autosport

@ALO_RENR28 asks: Which driver/team do you think, based on recent testing, has a good chance of the title this year?
 
EDD STRAW: "The best chance has to be for Mercedes right now. So it comes down to Lewis Hamilton versus Nico Rosberg.
 
"Rosberg has been very impressive in the way he has evolved as a driver in recent years and has a strong all-round approach.

"Certainly he’s very influential in the Mercedes garage, so perhaps he should be considered world championship favourite right now.
 
"That said, there is a long way to go and things will change."

09:02 As we pass midday here in Bahrain, here's the lap count so far:

Bianchi (Marussia) 47
Ericsson (Caterham) 42
Hulkenberg (Force India) 33
Massa (Williams) 30
Kvyat (Toro Rosso) 28
Magnussen (McLaren) 13
Raikkonen (Ferrari) 9
Rosberg (Mercedes) 3
Sutil (Sauber) 1
Vettel (Red Bull) 1
Grosjean (Lotus) 1

That '1' for Vettel is generous, considering the RB10 completed the second half of that lap on the back of a truck.

09:05 @SMSGrafica asks: There was talk about more extreme noses at the second Bahrain test. Will they come later or it was just rumours?
 
EDD STRAW: "There was talk about the possibility of making changes. But it would be dangerous to make big changes to the nose concept without good reason, because this has an effect on the aerodynamics of the whole car.
 
"Over a long enough timeline, the nose solutions will probably converge to one ideal. Unless, of course, a change in regulations for next year intervenes first."

1992 South African GP09:10 GARY ANDERSON: "The levels that the world championship-winning Red Bull team is having to go to to get the cooling of the RB10 under control are confusing me.

"The last time I remember having to carve up bodywork and make some emergency ducting was with Jordan and the Yamaha engine back in 1992 in South Africa.

"Basically, it was just a heat generating device and we struggled to get the oil temperature under control. The strange thing - and it amazed me - was that we went on to finish the race. Surely times have moved on since then?"

09:10 Kvyat heads back out in the Toro Rosso after 16 minutes in the pits. The Russian is currently third fastest behind Massa and Hulkenberg.

09:12 Grosjean is back on-track now in the Lotus, 20 minutes after his installation run in the E22. Time to make up for yesterday's fiery end for team-mate Maldonado's test.

09:15 Hulkenberg has been out of action for nearly three quarters of an hour, but he's back out now and improves to within eight tenths of Massa's benchmark. Bianchi and Grosjean are also lighting up the timing screens right now.

09:20 But the German heads back to the pits after a short run. Grosjean is circulating in the 1m44s at the moment as he tries to get some desperately needed laps on the Lotus.

09:23 The screens are up at the Ferrari garage while Raikkonen is in the pits. Ericsson now has more laps on the board than anyone as he works through a race simulation for Caterham.

09:29 Pacesetter Felipe Massa has been getting the laps in for Williams today, as the team works to improve the set-up and performance of the FW36.

GLENN FREEMAN reports from trackside that the Brazilian "carries loads of speed" into the double left-hander at 9/10 but has to delay getting on the throttle when "the front-end gives up on him mid-corner".

09:30 Those dramas pale in comparison to those experienced by Grosjean, who has a "huge wobble at the rear in the same place" and has to have "two massive stabs at correcting it, then downshift on corner exit," according to FREEMAN.

09:32 Nico Rosberg hasn't done many laps this morning, but that new Mercedes engine seems to be working reasonably well as he improves to third fastest.

09:37 GLENN FREEMAN can hear the front of the Mercedes floor touching the track when Rosberg brakes hard at the end of the back straight. This suggests he is carrying a heavy fuel load at the moment.

09:46 It's very windy out on track today. The drivers have a tailwind down the backstraight, but that means a fierce headwind down the start/finish straight.

09:47 Less than 15 minutes until the lunch break and we have a red flag.

09:48 The Marussia has pulled off the track and stopped between Turns 1 and 2.

09:48 One of the recovery vehicles is already on the scene, and Bianchi is out of the car.

09:51 Williams reveals on Twitter that the session will not restart before the lunchbreak, so that's it for the action until 13:30 local time.

09:55 A little info from Marussia, cause of this early lunch:

"Jules experienced a problem following his practice start which meant that he couldn't complete the lap. We're just diagnosing the issue."

Felipe Massa10:11 If you're just joining us, here's the full lowdown on the morning's events in Bahrain, as Felipe Massa and Williams set the pace, and Red Bull ran into yet more trouble:

Bahrain test Saturday am report

10:13 While one of the back-of-the-grid teams prompted the red flag that allowed everyone to boil the kettle earlier than expected, the other is feeling pretty reliable this afternoon.

Here's the latest from Caterham:

"We very nearly completed our full race distance sim, only the late red flag prevented us from running the full planned distance..."

10:15 But what exactly does a team mean by "race sim"?

Last night GLENN FREEMAN pulled together what we know about the teams' relative states of Melbourne preparation so far, and got some inside info about why a 'race sim' might not be so impressive if it's only a 'soft' race sim.

Who is most ready for Melbourne?

10:21 And while the toil goes on at Sakhir, some of the teams' top brass were meeting in England yesterday as the F1 Strategy Group came together to discuss the latest rounds of tweaks for the sport.

Extending the engine homologation deadline was dismissed (but Renault insists it doesn't mind), extending double points to three races was dismissed (and here's a reminder of why AUTOSPORT's JONATHAN NOBLE is firmly against the double points rule) but a shake-up for qualifying to ensure everyone takes Q3 seriously was agreed:

GP qualifying changes get approved

10:25 That qualifying adjustment comes as NASCAR - of all things - takes a leaf out of F1's book for its grid-deciding format.

The Sprint Cup used its new knockout system for the first time at Phoenix on Friday.

You can follow the Phoenix race as it happens on AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live from 8pm UK time on Sunday night.

The NASCAR event is one of two major non-F1 races happening this weekend as the 2014 season begins to ramp up worldwide.

The V8 Supercars season kicked off in Adelaide earlier today, and while wins for Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes were fairly standard, Scott McLaughlin beating the champion to second in race two in the new Volvo S60 was a definite shock.

Adelaide10:29 And yes F1 fans, the Adelaide venue used by V8s is a shortened version of the much-loved track that held the Australian GP from 1985-95.

So with Williams fastest in Bahrain this morning, here's a picture of Damon Hill on the way to winning in Adelaide for the team in the venue's final GP - in which he famously triumphed by two laps over Olivier Panis's Ligier (which was on the brink of blowing up) and Gianni Morbidelli's Arrows.

Is that the kind of attrition we'll be seeing in F1 again this season...? EDD STRAW certainly wouldn't mind:

Attrition would be F1's most welcome comeback

And to complete the nostalgia fix if you fancy, our stats partner FORIX - the world's most comprehensive motorsport database - has all the results, times, numbers, lapcharts etc from the 1995 Australian GP and every other race in F1 history:

1995 Australian GP stats on FORIX

10:31 The track is open again after lunch. Yesterday we had to wait nearly another 30 minutes to see a car after the end of the lunchbreak.

That's not the case today, as Raikkonen takes the Ferrari straight out.

Still no sign of that much-needed race simulation for the Finn so far, as we are halfway through his final day of pre-season.

10:35 Rosberg and Magnussen are on track too, and Grosjean kicks off Lotus's afternoon with a new personal best.

10:39 Rosberg gets straight down to work with a stint consistently lapping in the 1m41s.

10:43 One of the strange sensations of watching Formula 1 cars in action this year is listening to the upshifts of cars. The torque of the new 2014 turbocharged engines means that the timing of gearshifts is not as critical as before, so you get a variety between drivers. According to Jenson Button, a lot of it is down to personal preference:

"It doesn't really matter, it pulls in any gear. In Jerez Kevin was shifting four or five thousand revs before I was but the exit speeds were the same so the gears don't matter so much these days. They really don't. Strange!"

10:43 Raikkonen, with only 11 laps to his name so far today, finds nearly a second over his previous best lap.

Sebastian Vettel10:46 That's still a lot more laps than Red Bull has achieved today, with Vettel struggling to get beyond the pitlane so far on his penultimate day of pre-season running.

But at least, as this picture shows, he's still helping the marshals rather than walking off in a huff as many might expect.

10:48 Magnussen moves up to second in the McLaren, getting within half a second of Massa's best from this morning.

10:49 AUTOSPORT thinks that picture makes it look like Vettel's pushing the RB10 to a scrutineering bay at a clubbie meeting. Sadly for him SEMSEC Open Single-Seaters is no more.

10:52 Magnussen's pace has only dropped slightly as this run continues. He's lapping around 1m38s now.

10:53 The McLaren comes in, leaving Hulkenberg's Force India alone on track.

10:56 While there's not much going on, here's a recap of how the day has played out so far:

*Vettel manages half a lap across two attempted runs for Red Bull
*Massa sets the pace as Williams focuses on performance
*Sutil comes to a smokey halt after just one lap
*Mercedes performs an engine change before heading out

10:58 Force India reports that Hulkenberg will be focusing on long runs this afternoon.

That mirrors the programme the team carried out with Sergio Perez over the first two days of the test.

11:00 Raikkonen moves up to fifth as he finds 1.5 seconds. He's still playing catch-up today, with only 16 laps to his name.

11:03 Another improvement for the Ferrari, as Raikkonen finds another tenth of a second. If the car remains reliable this afternoon, expect to see the 2007 world champion logging a lot of laps.

11:04 Raikkonen isn't the only driver going quicker. Magnussen goes fastest by a second in the McLaren, with best sector times through all three segments of the lap.

11:06 Magnussen follows up that session-topping time with a slow lap that is over the 2-minute mark.

Kimi Raikkonen11:07 Ferrari's pace picking up will please Fernando Alonso.

Although the car has looked increasingly good this week, yesterday the Spaniard said the focus for the weekend had to be on finding more speed.

EDD STRAW assessed where Ferrari stood as this test began on Thursday:

Prancing or limping horse?

11:08 Magnussen has a lot to get his head around as he adapts to life as a rookie in F1, but so far he has looked comfortable. He's been in good spirits in Bahrain over these two tests.

"I'm just enjoying it. This is amazing for me. I'm dreaming! It's overwhelming, everyday when I wake up and go to the track. I need to get used to that and just get on with the job.

"I don't think it will ever go away, because it's a dream come true. But I feel I belong here."

He follows that previous slow lap up with a 1m37.2s.

11:13 Ferrari is clearly working on speed over long runs at this stage of the afternoon, as Raikkonen goes second fastest with a 1m36.9s.

Sebastian Vettel11:19 A favourite hobby for F1 photographers in Bahrain has been to track down the spot where Renault teams and drivers tend to hang out while enduring technical problems.

Here's evidence from the last hour that Sebastian Vettel is still smiling despite his failure to complete a lap today. Not just smiling, grinning.

11:21 Let's have a catch-up with where everyone is at in terms of lap count for today:

Ericsson (Caterham) 69
Hulkenberg (Force India) 59
Bianchi (Marussia) 55
Massa (Williams) 50
Kvyat (Toro Rosso) 41
Magnussen (McLaren) 36
Rosberg (Mercedes) 34
Raikkonen (Ferrari) 23
Grosjean (Lotus) 28
Sutil (Sauber) 1
Vettel (Red Bull) 0.5

11:21 The Mercedes-powered cars of Massa, Hulkenberg and Rosberg are all adding to their tally at the moment.

11:22 Vettel's attire in that shot below doesn't suggest the Red Bull is on the verge of heading back out just yet.

11:26 Raikkonen returns to the track again after a break of just over five minutes in the pits. Is it time for his long runs yet?

11:28 This run opens with a gentle 1m46s from Raikkonen, but he follows that up with a 1m37.7s, suggesting this will be another short run.

11:36 The Ferrari did pit as expected, and Magnussen joins the fray to get all four Mercedes-powered cars on track.

11:37 While Magnussen gets the McLaren warmed up, Massa, Hulkenberg and Rosberg are all buried in race-spec work. They're lapping around the 1m41s-42s at the moment.

11:40 BEN ANDERSON is in the pits for us at the moment, and he's started off with garage door-watch.

Hardly a surprise to hear from him that things are all closed up at Red Bull right now, while the Lotus garage is half closed as well.

Magnussen has just passed him in the pits, seemingly preparing for a practice start based on his engine revs.

11:44 Our man in the pits says that Magnussen's practice start "went well", while Rosberg has just pitted and been wheeled into the garage.

11:46 @InsideFerrari reports that Raikkonen is "ready for a race simulation".

The team has even found a picture of him smiling to go with it.

Bahrain at night11:50 This year's Bahrain Grand Prix will be the first F1 race at the Sakhir circuit to take place at night. The lights have been put to use at various stages during the evenings of this test, and here's what it looks like from above.

AUTOSPORT spoke to Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al-Khalifa, chief executive of Bahrain International Circuit about the lighting system yesterday, and he explained just how big the job of lighting the whole circuit is:

"We have 495 light poles. They vary between 10 metres and 45 metres in height, and I think the smallest one has about 16 fixtures, spotlights. We do up to 120 on one pole which is coming down Turn 4. The total is over 5000."

11:51 Ericsson finds an improvement of 0.2s in the Caterham.

11:53 The latest from BEN ANDERSON in the pits is that the Force India pitwall is well-staffed at the moment as they keep an eye on Hulkenberg's race simulation.

The German has been lapping in the 1m43s for the last few laps, which is comparable with the race run Fernando Alonso carried out for Ferrari yesterday.

Alonso upped his pace significantly in the final stint though, finding the sort of pace we have seen from Mercedes in race-spec once he was on a lower fuel load.

11:54 Magnussen also appears to be working on a heavy fuel load at the moment, lapping around 1m44s.

11:59 EDD STRAW is back from conducting some interviews in the paddock for AUTOSPORT's pre-season coverage. We're sending some of your questions from earlier on his way, and if you want to get in on the act now email live@autosport.com or tweet using #autosport

12:01 Hulkenberg has started a new stint after a pitstop, starting off with a couple of laps in the 1m40s before dropping back to 1m41s.

12:03 BEN ANDERSON - now trackside in the downhill esses section after Turn 4 - reports that the Force India looks neat and tidy on its fresh rubber.

Magnussen's McLaren looks 'lazier' at this stage, but he is lapping around 3s slower at the moment.

12:05 Rosberg is back out on track after some setup changes from the Mercedes team. He starts the run off with a 1m38.7s, and follows it up with a 1m40.3s.

12:05 Raikkonen has left the pits after a stay of nearly half an hour. Ferrari has a little under 2h30m to get its race simulation complete.

12:07 A pass through the pitlane for Raikkonen suggests Ferrari is going through the pre-race motions at the moment. It may seem trivial, but even the processes that teams go through to get to the grid on a Sunday afternoon have to be taken into consideration.

12:09 Time for the first of our reader questions for EDD STRAW today:

@Steve_Norwich: Are any teams running their cars in unison to see how the aerodynamics are affected by following another car, ie dirty air?

EDD STRAW: "There have been a few times where cars have been close on track, albeit briefly, but we haven't seen anything that looks like formalised running of that nature. As much as anything, it's probably because most teams still have more pressing things to deal with.

"In terms of the aerodynamic effect, the cars haven't changed enough shape-wise to make a dramatic difference to that, so there's likely not so much to learn from that point of view. As a ballpark figure, downforce loss can range from 20-30 per cent when behind another car in a corner. But, this year in particular, teams will be interested to know what kind of fuel saving is possible when running in another car's slipstream.

"When two car testing was legal (currently, teams can only run one car for cost-saving reasons) this kind of thing did happen. But right now it would depend on co-operation between teams, which is dependent on co-ordinating their schedules, which won't be easy.

"It's the kind of thing that, in an ideal world, teams would like to do though, especially as it could have a significant bearing on fuel use in races."

12:10 As Raikkonen gets ready for a busy end to his day, Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso has just cycled out of the paddock. Looks like he's heading trackside to see how the F14 T looks first-hand.

Ferrari12:12 AUTOSPORT technical writer CRAIG SCARBOROUGH has spotted a few intriguing new bits on the Ferrari this week so far.

"Ferrari has been introducing more parts of its update package. On Thursday, we saw the new front wing and yesterday came the revised engine cover.

"This creates a larger outlet around the exhaust. There is also a variation in the size of Coke bottle outlets and the inlet duct on the spine of the cover feeding cool air into the turbo.

"One feature not seen on an F1 car perhaps since 2009 is a wing profile on the rollhoop."

12:13 BEN ANDERSON tells us from trackside that Raikkonen ran wide through the esses a few moments ago, kicking up the dust.

He adds that the Mercedes looks good through the same section, although the Force India currently looks even better.

12:18 As a reminder for those wondering why the leaderboard is only showing nine cars - Sauber and Red Bull are yet to set a time today.

Adrian Sutil came to a smokey halt in the pit entry at the end of his installation lap first thing this morning.

Red Bull has had a couple of attempts at getting Sebastian Vettel on track, but the first attempt lasted half a lap and next time around he didn't even make it out of the pitlane.

12:21 We have a red flag.

12:22 Grosjean has stopped the Lotus on the backstraight.

12:26 As the recovery crews get to work on taking the Lotus back to the pits, here's what BEN ANDERSON noticed from trackside before that stoppage:

"The McLaren was chasing the Mercedes, and Magnussen seemed to have the esses under control now. However, Rosberg was edging away.

"The Toro Rosso sounded different every time it came past, sometimes it was much more high-pitched than the Mercedes cars, but on other laps it came past sounding much gruffer. Maybe it was just in a higher gear.

"It's very windy and dusty out the back of the circuit too. As soon as the cars move slightly off line they are kicking up rooster tails of dust."

12:27 Thanks for your questions, we're using this break in the action to put EDD STRAW to work answering some more of them.

12:30 As the recovery truck heads back to the paddock, we have a little over two hours to go here. If we have any more disruptions that could prove costly to Raikkonen's hopes of getting a race simulation in.

If you're wondering why we keep talking about Raikkonen and race running, then click here to read what he said after the first day of this test.

12:33 The track is open again with 1h56m on the clock to run.

12:35 Raikkonen and Massa are the first cars to head out.

12:39 Massa and Rosberg are in the 1m38s straight away, while Kvyat and Ericsson join the action.

12:41 Kvyat's first flying lap is a new personal best for today, getting him into the 1m37s.

Raikkonen's race run could be underway now - he's kicked off with a 1m41.9s. We'll keep an eye on it - providing he stays out this time - and let you know how he's getting on.

Kevin Magnussen12:45 Sipko Huismans asks: Are we starting to see that Kevin Magnussen might be the faster of the McLaren drivers on raw pace?

EDD STRAW: "There isn't currently enough data to go on, but what is beyond question is that Magnussen has impressed everyone, including the McLaren team, with his testing performances.

"He will certainly be quick, whether he establishes himself as the quicker McLaren driver over the season partly depends on how Button goes. When everything is right, Jenson is a wonderful driver capable of lapping as quick as anyone, but this usually happens only when he is in harmony with the car.

"It wouldn't be a surprise if Magnussen emerges as the stronger qualifier, particularly in the second half of the season. In the races, there will be some rough edges to work off but you can expect the Dane to have an impressive season."

12:53 Raikkonen suffered a sharp decline at the start of this stint. After opening with a 1m41.9s he was quickly slipping down to 1m42s, then 43s, and even 44s. The run is only nine laps old and he's just got himself back into the 43s.

12:57 Our technical expert CRAIG SCARBOROUGH has been rounding up all the teams' developments seen during this final test, including more signs of problem-management at Red Bull and Ferrari reviving concepts last seen in 2009:

Final F1 test upgrade round-up

13:01 Hello to @WilliamsF1Team, which has just tweeted a picture of our commentary feed on the screens in its garage!

Raikkonen makes the first stop of this race simulation.

13:03 That first stint from Raikkonen was three laps longer than Alonso's opener yesterday afternoon, and on average it was around 0.3s per lap slower than the Spaniard managed.

Don't read too much into that, as several teams have told us that track evolution has been hard to judge during this test, due to changes in temperature, wind, and dust.

13:06 More bad news for Lotus...

@Lotus_F1Team: "We've stopped running. We're investigating. Looks like an early bath for @RGrosjean today. Maybe to join Seb #Vettel in the pool..."

13:07 Rosberg comes out of the pits and goes second with his first flying lap of this run.

13:11 The next two laps after that 1m36.2s are 1m38s efforts for the Mercedes.

Raikkonen is a little more consistent so far in this stint, lapping in the mid-1m43s.

13:14 Hulkenberg goes second fastest with his 98th lap of the day. Probably focusing on performance work again now after that earlier race run.

13:15 @karunchandhok reckons we're due a lap count, so here we go:

Hulkenberg (Force India) 98
Ericsson (Caterham) 90
Massa (Williams) 78
Rosberg (Mercedes) 75
Bianchi (Marussia) 67
Magnussen (McLaren) 59
Raikkonen (Ferrari) 53
Kvyat (Toro Rosso) 50
Grosjean (Lotus) 33
Sutil (Sauber) 1
Vettel (Red Bull) 0.5

13:18 And while we're at it, here are the main stories to emerge today:

*Vettel manages half a lap over two attempted runs for Red Bull
*Lotus unlikely to run again today
*Sutil comes to a smokey halt at the end of first lap of the day
*Magnussen goes quickest shortly after lunch break
*Mercedes starts late after performing an engine change

13:21 It's always fun to see what drivers do on the days their team-mates are in the cars and how immersed in the team they stay.

Top marks to Max Chilton: "As I am not in the car today I had an important task which is regularly forgotten.... Making a brew for the mechanics"

13:21 Just Rosberg and Ericsson keeping Raikkonen company on track at the moment. The Ferrari has spent most of this stint lapping in the 1m43s.

Toro Rosso pitboard13:23 Toro Rosso has been using possibly the least encouraging pitboard in F1 today, as this picture shows.

It's fared a lot better today than its Renault stablemates at least, with Kvyat sixth right now.

13:30 Massa backs off after posting a 1m38s, while Raikkonen stays in the 1m43s, and Magnussen and Kvyat join the action.

13:30 Kvyat's first flying lap is a 1m36.113, and he goes fastest.

13:32 Massa's next hot lap is another low 1m38s, only 0.1s slower than he managed two laps ago.

13:32 That was a short run for Kvyat in the Toro Rosso - he's back in the pits.

13:36 Raikkonen pits for a second time in this race simulation. Ferrari are running this 'race' slightly differently to Alonso's yesterday, giving Raikkonen a much longer second stint than his team-mate did.

13:38 Another reader question now. Sergio Mapelli asks: Do you think Red Bull is soon going to have to make a
 'B' version of the RB10, and has Adrian Newey created another flawed 
project like the McLaren MP4-18?
 
EDD STRAW: "It's clear there need to be some significant changes in the longer term to optimise the cooling, although whether a full-blown b-spec car is necessary is unclear.

"That said, there have been grand prix weekends where Red Bull has brought so many upgrades that it might as well have been a b-spec, so it's difficult to know where to draw the line as to what defines a b-spec!
 
"Given that all Renault cars are having problems, not to mention how good the Red Bull briefly looked on track yesterday, it seems fair to assume that aerodynamically it is a very fine car.

"Cooling problems can be fixed and the engine will improve, it's just a case of how long it is before the potential is unleashed."

13:39 The average laptime over that longer stint for Raikkonen was around 0.1s per lap faster than he managed during his first stint, and around half a second per lap faster than Alonso's (much shorter) second stint was yesterday.

It's still quite some margin adrift of what we saw from Mercedes with Rosberg last week, but track conditions could be playing a part in that.

13:40 Kvyat's time at the top is short-lived as Massa's Williams smashes his time.

That's a 1m34.4s for the Williams, the fastest time we have seen so far in this final test.

McLaren 200313:41 Sergio Mapelli's question about Red Bull's plight and whether the RB10 would be another McLaren MP4-18 is a handy reminder that earlier this year EDD STRAW looked back at the Adrian Newey designs that hadn't turned out well:

When Newey got it wrong

13:42 Rosberg bumps Kvyat down another place with a 1m35.9s.

A quick check of the numbers on Massa's lap tells us that only the Mercedes of Rosberg and Hamilton went faster than that during the first Bahrain test.

13:43 Ericsson is the latest driver to improve as we approach just 45 minutes to go today. He finds 0.3s in the Caterham.

13:47 Jason Parker asks: Why does everyone on the pitwall see Mercedes as clear favourite for Australia? The Williams seems to have excellent reliability, while Force India and McLaren seem to have decent race pace.
 
EDD STRAW: "As much as anything, it's down to how far advanced with its overall programme Mercedes has been. It made massive progress in the first test, more than anyone else, and has rolled on from there. It has also, in raw speed terms, shown extremely well and few would bet against it being on the front row come Australia.
 
"But, as you point out, things might not be so clear cut in race conditions. The Williams does look good, particularly on race pace, and could be a factor. There are so many variables that it's difficult to predict what will happen, but right now Mercedes is legitimately hailed as favourite.
 
"It is true, though, that there are still question marks over reliability and also exactly how things will pan out in the races."

13:50 Massa does another lap that is faster than anyone else has managed today, although his 1m35.4s is no match for his own best.

13:55 Keith Watkins asks: As the number of power units per season is restricted, how is this affected by the mileage put on while testing? Are extra 
power units allowed for testing?
 
EDD STRAW: "The allocation in testing is unregulated and is unconnected to the five-engines-per-driver rule. When the engine limit was first introduced, there was a rule limiting each team to one test engine, but it was quietly dropped."

13:59 Things getting quite intense for Rosberg as we near the end of the third day.

@MercedesAMGF1: "Radio to @nico_rosberg reminding him to "drink" or "blink" He's either rather thirsty or looking very intense, we're not sure which..."

14:00 Ericsson's just completed his 103rd lap and it's his fastest of the day so far.

Ericsson14:01 The Swede lops another second off as Caterham focuses on performance for the final part of this test.

14:05 Bianchi vaults the Marussia above the Caterham with that last effort - straight into the 1m38s. Caterham hasn't managed better than a 1m39 early in the previous test.

14:09 Another quick lap from Massa - this one is a 1m35.3s.

14:09 Gyorgy Dora from Hungary asks: Seeing Renault's issues recently, should Honda be worried about its preparations for 2015 as it cannot test the engines in 'real conditions' until next year's test season?
 
EDD STRAW: "It will certainly be difficult for Honda to play catch-up, especially as the regulations explicitly prevent it from running in anything approaching an F1 car. But Honda is investing heavily and if it can do its preparation work properly, it should be able to hit the ground running.
 
"After all, Mercedes has had far fewer problems, as has Ferrari, so it can be done. The question is whether turning up a season late to the party is an advantage or a disadvantage?

14:12 EDD STRAW has an update from the paddock on Lotus's troubles. The team were hindered by an electrical problem with the gearbox fan in the morning, and its running later on was curtailed by an issue with the MGU-K energy recovery system. That was too big a job to complete in time to send Romain Grosjean back out today.

Raikkonen14:12 
'Phaser' and Henrik Zachrau both email to say it seems suspicious that Raikkonen is having more problems than Alonso and suggest Ferrari could be scheduling repairs on Kimi's days to give Alonso trouble-free running, while Raymond Schram asks if Ferrari might adjust its schedule to give Kimi more mileage on the final day as Alonso has had more running.
 
EDD STRAW: "Sometimes things just go that way. With only 12 days of testing, usually one driver will be the unfortunate one. For example, prior to today, with one day left for each, Nico Rosberg was about 500km up the road from Lewis Hamilton.
 
"Certainly, Raikkonen has been extremely unfortunate - and has had problems again today - but he's a professional, experienced driver and it won't disadvantage him. As he would doubtless say, he knows what he's doing!
 
"Given the learning curve teams are on with these engines, it would be impossible to build your programme around trying to give one driver the more high-risk days, and there would be no benefit to doing so."

14:13 Ericsson gets the Caterham into the 1m39s, for the first time since last week's Bahrain test. Still one second slower than the Marussia though.

14:15 Three outright fastest sectors from Rosberg as he takes nearly a second out of Massa's fastest lap. That's 100 laps up for the day (despite a late start due to an engine change) and a 1m33.484s.

Mercedes very helpfully tweets a picture of the car leaving the pits a few moments ago on super-soft tyres.

14:16 Magnussen improves his best time in the McLaren. That's good enough for third overall, but nearly 2.5s adrift of Rosberg.

14:17 Massa responds and goes back to the top in the Williams, shaving a further two tenths from Rosberg's best.

14:18 That's narrowly the fastest time yet across the two pre-season tests at the Sakhir circuit. By less than three hundredths of a second...

14:20 Raikkonen goes third fastest in the Ferrari with just under 10 minutes left. He manages a low 1m35.

14:24 Bianchi dips into the 1m37s as the drivers continue to go for it at the end. Ericsson does Caterham's fastest lap of the Sakhir circuit so far this pre-season, but it's one second adrift of Bianchi's effort.

14:28 Raikkonen sets personal bests through the first two sectors, but the lap falls away a little bit towards the end and he crosses the line just one hundredth of a second down on his best.

14:29 No need for the floodlights to get us through these last few minutes today, as it's a much brighter finish weather-wise.

14:30 Lots of teams are heading in and out of the pits at the moment - it's been a busy end to this penultimate day of the 2014 pre-season.

14:31 That's it, another day of testing in the books. Raikkonen improves by less than a tenth as the chequered flag comes out, leaving Massa at the top of the times with the fastest lap we have seen in Bahrain over seven days of running here.

14:32 Eager to know the main themes and major events of the day? Our full report is imminent.

14:33 The last car to return to the pits is Kvyat, who locks up as he slows for the pitlane speed limit. Talk about making the most of every last second of testing.

14:41 And here is the aforementioned report:

ButtonFelipe Massa sets early pace, Red Bull struggles

14:43 That's it for AUTOSPORT's live coverage for the third and penultimate day of testing here in Bahrain.

Our team will be searching high and low in the paddock to get all the latest news and reaction after a day where Renault-powered teams - Red Bull in particular - struggled once again.

Keep up with all the reaction from the teams and drivers on autosport.com over the next few hours.

14:44 Our live service will resume for the final day of pre-season testing tomorrow at 06:00 GMT. See you then.

Massa

  FASTEST TIMES
P Driver Team Time
1  MassaWilliams 1m33.258s
2  RosbergMercedes 1m33.484s  +0.226
3  RaikkonenFerrari 1m35.426s  +2.168
4  MagnussenMcLaren 1m35.894s  +2.636
5  KvyatToro Rosso 1m36.113s  +2.855
6  HulkenbergForce India 1m36.205s  +2.947
7  BianchiMarussia 1m37.087s  +3.829
8  EricssonCaterham 1m38.083s  +4.825
9  GrosjeanLotus 1m42.166s  +8.908
All timing unofficial. Updated: 14:31 GMT
  OVERVIEW DAY THREE  
  CURRENT WEATHER
Clear skies High Temp: 26°C / 79°F
Track: Dry
  INFOBOX
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