Updated: Friday, 31 January 2014 01:57 | By Agence France-Presse

Red Bull struggles persist, Magnussen shines

Formula One world champions Red Bull's problems continued on day three of pre-season testing in Jerez on Thursday while Denmark's Kevin Magnussen stole the show on his first outing in the McLaren.

Red Bull struggles persist, Magnussen shines

McLaren Mercedes' Danish driver Kevin Magnussen stops in the pits during the Formula One pre-season test days at Jerez racetrack in Jerez on January 30, 2014 - by Jorge Guerrero

Magnussen took over from teammate Jenson Button, who had gone fastest in the morning, for the afternoon session and bettered the Briton's mark with an effort of 1min 23.276 sec.

By contrast, it was another frustrating day for Red Bull and their new driver Daniel Ricciardo as the Australian only managed three laps before the team called off their efforts early for a second consecutive day.

Red Bull, led by four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, have only completed 14 laps over the opening three days and seem well behind their title rivals with only nine more days testing to come before the season gets underway for real at the Australian Grand Prix on March 16.

Williams' Felipe Massa was second fastest with Lewis Hamilton in third as the Mercedes continued to pile on the miles.

The Englishman didn't match teammate Nico Rosberg's mammoth 97 lap effort from Wednesday, but was the busiest man on the track as he went around 62 times.

And despite a fine start to his Formula One career, Magnussen believes it is laps completed rather than times that is the key so early in the season.

"Obviously I'm very happy about what we did and I'm especially happy about the laps we got in, but I am not really looking into lap times at the minute," he said.

"I'm also happy with how many laps Jenson got in. The reliability has been much better than we thought and hopefully we'll continue like that tomorrow.

"At the moment mileage is more important than reliability."

A reliable car has certainly been beyond Red Bull on the opening three days in Jerez as after completing just 11 laps in two days with Vettel at the wheel, Ricciardo got his first outing having joined from sister team Toro Rosso in the off season.

However, it didn't take long for the Ricciardo to be back in the garage as he had to abandon the RB10 midway through his first installation lap with smoke coming from the back of the car.

The 24-year-old briefly made it out for two more spins around the track before the team announced they would not be doing any more running during the afternoon.

"We worked hard yesterday to make the changes it was felt were necessary to overcome the problems we identified and we were hopeful of a more successful day today," race engineering co-ordinator Andy Damerum said in a statement released by the team.

"Unfortunately, the measures we took only partially solved the issue and, as with yesterday, it’s more sensible to stop and dig deeper into finding a solution."

Another former champion Fernando Alonso also made his first appearance of the season in the Ferrari F14-T.

The Spaniard's arrival drew a much larger crowd than in the previous two sessions and Ferrari enjoyed another satisfactory day as Alonso finished fifth fastest after completing 58 laps.

Alonso has finished second to Vettel in the championship standings in three of the last four seasons, but he played down the importance of Red Bull's showing in Jerez with six weeks still to go until the first race of the season in Melbourne.

"They have not run a lot so far, but there is still a lot of time before Australia.

"The media always make a lot of the testing because there are only two or three in the year. It is normal that everything becomes bigger if you have a good day or a bad day.

"In terms of preparation and approach, the Australian Grand Prix is what you need to aim for and we still have so many things to learn before then."

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