Max’s final pre-season test session at the wheel of the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB14 turned out to be a marathon effort, with the Dutch driver completing a monumental total of 187 laps of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya across another highly productive day for the team.
The Dutchman ended the session in a seemingly lowly 12th position and 2.66s off the pace set by fastest hypersoft tyre-shod Sebatian Vettel, but Max spent the bulk of his outing working on long-run pace, chiefly on the medium tyre, with which he set his fastest time.
Largely mirroring the run plan that saw Daniel Ricciardo post 165 laps of the Barcelona track yesterday, Max spent of the morning gathering data on tyres. Max was happy with his final day in the new car before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
"Today was about doing a lot of laps... a lot of laps!" he said. "The focus for us today was on long runs and the feeling with the car was good. No problems with the car and I was happy with the pace. We can definitely work from here. If it's going to be good enough we'll have to wait and see. We'll find out in Melbourne, but I think we can be happy with what we have. I'm ready for it."
Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin added: "Well, last night we were hoping for a repeat of the good running we had with Daniel yesterday and we got it. As with yesterday, we drew up a pretty ambitious run plan, but we managed to get through the whole programme.
"The programme was very similar to what we did with Daniel yesterday – some tyre work this morning, race simulation in the afternoon and no problems. Max didn't do any performance running on the softest tyres, simply because we're not chasing lap times, it's not suited to this circuit, and we got the data we needed on that tyre from Daniel's runs yesterday."
Vettel's time, which broke the unofficial circuit record set by Daniel yesterday, was set in the morning session and like most other teams Ferrari then also moved to longer runs in the afternoon. That kept the German on top of the timesheets, just over 1.1s clear of Haas' Kevin Magnussen who posted a best time of 1:18.360 on supersoft tyres.
Third place in the session went to Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly, with the Frenchman using the hypersoft tyre to finish three thousandths of a second behind Magnussen. Gasly also posted the day's third biggest lap total behind Max and Vettel, getting through 169 laps.
Nico Hulkenberg finished fourth in the works Renault, finishing five hundredths of a second ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz as both tried the hypersoft tyre.
Elsewhere, after a troubled second day in Barcelona, McLaren bounced back today with Stoffel Vandoorne slotting sixth place and adding 151 laps to the Woking team's tally. The Belgian driver finished ahead of Sauber's Marcus Ericsson, the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton and the Williams of Robert Kubica. Sergio Perez was 11th for Force India ahead of Max and the table was propped by Williams' Lance Stroll.