Valtteri Bottas ended the third day of pre – season testing fastest for Mercedes at the Circuit de Catalunya – Barcelona. The Finn completed well over a race distance on his way to the fastest time in the Mercedes, during the morning but his time proved unbeatable throughout the afternoon.
As soon as the cars hit the track this morning there was drama for Jolyon Palmer. After four laps in the Renault he stopped at the high speed Turn Three, that brought out the red flag. The Brit re-joined the action later breaking into the 1:25’s.
Palmer told the media “We’ve made some really good progress in terms of the set-up. Sadly, I’ve done two half days so far with another half day in the wet tomorrow, but 51 laps today is ok. Yesterday was a bit compromised, but every time we are in the car we’re learning and it’s showing a bit on performance as well.”
Like we have seen throughout the week tumbling lap times were once again on the agenda. As Bottas set incredibly fast laps during the morning which broke the fastest ever lap which was set by Rubens Barrichello in qualifying in 2009. Also proving the silver arrows have brilliant reliability, roughly over the two and a half days they have done five Grand Prix’s in terms of distance.
Bottas certainly proved he can deliver great laps in the Mercedes in testing. This also meant the regulation target of making the cars around five seconds a lap faster had been easily achieved.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel started his morning on the medium tyres, the German by mid-morning using them to lap with the Mercedes. Both the top two teams have not encountered any reliability issues so far with them both setting great laps on track.
Lance Stroll’s hopes of a more productive first morning were shattered after he spun off into the gravel trap less than an hour into the morning. He will look to improve this afternoon.
As ever, a flurry of laps came in the final half hour. With Stroll, Grosjean and Vettel trying to match Bottas but they were unable to find enough.
Bottas hands over to team-mate Lewis Hamilton this afternoon. Over the lunch break, Renault decided to replace Palmer with Nico Hulkenberg for the afternoon and Toro Rosso replaced Kvyat with Carlos Sainz.
Mercedes again focused during the afternoon with Hamilton on racking up the miles. The three times world champion added over eighty laps to Mercedes tally during the session.
Meaning between both their drivers completed for the third day in a row well over two Grand Prix’s. Meaning there total about of mileage this week has taken the team over 1,000 miles in three days. This is good for the team as it proves they have reliability on the team’s car.
As well as proving they have great reliability, Mercedes proved they have the pace too. But, it wasn’t as much run as the team would have liked after two red flags, the second one of the day came again in the closing moments of the afternoon.
As Red Bull’s Ricciardo and Palmer in the Renault retained third and fourth fastest. The Australian was unable to improve on his best time, while Palmer’s team-mate Hulkenberg slotted his best lap in behind his team-mate in the last half hour, albeit four tenths down.
Hamilton didn’t really post a clear fastest lap, instead focusing much of his running on race simulations. But, he was constant with his times, lapping around the 1:22’s and 23’s at various points on different tyre compounds. Also, his long fuel run was timed to suit the race start time.
Mid-afternoon saw some progress from McLaren, with Alonso putting some laps in with him lapping in the 1:23’s on fast laps. Before two red flags within half an hour halted running, the first for Sainz who went off at Turn Four going into the gravel.
It wasn’t long after the session resumed and at the next corner that Stroll went off for the second time, causing the red flags to return. That spin ended his day.
In the last hour, Vettel was matching Hamilton on his race runs before they both set about some fast laps. But, the German was pushing his car to the limit when it’s thought he ran out of fuel in the closing half hour, bring out the red flag.
- BARCELONA TEST 1 DAY 2 – Raikkonen pips Hamilton and Verstappen but Mercedes rack up the mileage
- Day Two Result
- BARCELONA TEST 1 DAY 1 – Hamilton And Bottas Prove Mercedes Are Still The Team To Beat, As Vettel Emerges As Closest Challenger
- Day One Result
- F1 Today – Testing Special (26/02/2017)
- Data Profile – Spanish Grand Prix
- Preview – Barcelona First Test