Felipe Massa has posted the quickest time so far as the penultimate day of Formula 1 pre-season testing drew to a close on Saturday, but the nightmare build-up for reigning champions Red Bull Racing continued.

Massa had his final outing behind the wheel of the Williams FW36 ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in less than two weeks time, and the Brazilian was clearly revelling in his new environment, clocking a rapid 1:33.258 in the closing stages of the day.

Massa’s performance came off the back of a qualifying-style run, and he managed to just beat the previous benchmark time set by Nico Rosberg by three-hundredths of a second.

Rosberg, meanwhile, finished the day second-quickest, with his fastest time – a 1:33.484 – just two-tenths of a second off Massa’s ultimate pace. Fitting with a new engine, Rosberg had led the timesheets until the dying minutes, when Massa’s late run proved enough.

Two seconds adrift came Kimi Räikkönen, who rounded out the top three in the Ferrari F14T. The Finn didn’t have it all his own way, however, after being confined to the garage for much of the morning. Once up and running, he was able to complete a full race simulation, following a similar effort managed by teammate Fernando Alonso the day before.

McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen, Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat and Force India returnee Nico Hülkenberg were all in hot pursuit, with each managing to rack up useful mileage in their respective machines.

Jules Bianchi did likewise en route to a solid seventh on the timesheets, indicating that Marussia’s troubles last week were seemingly behind the Banbury-based outfit. That being said, he did have a brief stoppage late in the morning.

Marcus Ericsson clocked up the most lapsThe Caterham team was another outfit to enjoy almost trouble-free running, with Marcus Ericsson racking up the most mileage of the day – 117 laps in all – to give the CT05 more invaluable track time.

Romain Grosjean brought up the rear of the timed runners, some nine seconds off the pace as his Lotus E22 was again beset with further technical gremlins.

But at least he managed some cursory kilometres behind the wheel, as the same could certainly not be said for Sauber’s Adrian Sutil and Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel, neither of whom posted a time.

Sutil’s day came to an end after one lap when his Sauber started emitting smoke from the rear at the end of his installation lap, while Vettel lasted all of four corners on his first tour from pit lane before he crawled to a halt.

His mechanics attended to the car back in the garage and 45 minutes later he was running again, but this time he konked out before the end of the pit lane. With the team identifying a major leak damaging a number of internal components, they called it a day.

The field has one final day of pre-season testing before they back and head to Melbourne. By all indicators, it looks set to be a very high-attrition Australian Grand Prix in a fortnight’s time…

2014 Formula 1 Pre-Season Test – Bahrain Day 7 Results:

  Driver Team / Entry Time Laps
1. Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes FW36 1:33.258 99
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05 1:33.484 103
3. Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari F14T 1:35.426 87
4. Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes MP4-29 1:35.894 88
5. Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9 1:36.113 81
6. Nico Hülkenberg Force India Mercedes VJM07 1:36.205 115
7. Jules Bianchi Marussia Ferrari MR03 1:37.087 78
8. Marcus Ericsson Caterham Renault CT05 1:38.083 117
9. Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault E22 1:42.166 33
10. Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari C33 no time 1
11. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing Renault RB10 no time 0

Images via XPB Images

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Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Two-time Young Australian of the Year finalist, qualified mechanical engineer, social advocate, author and 'petrol head'

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