Valtteri Bottas continued to set the pace on the first day of the third test at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. The Mercedes driver was a tenth slower than his pole position time from qualifying but maintained his huge margin over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Bottas’s fastest time was set on the C5 compound of tyre, which is two steps softer than the tyre used to set a new track record in Q3 on Saturday, putting him ahead of the Monacan. Leclerc set his fastest time on the C2, or what was the medium, leaving him over a second off the pace.
Ferrari still struggling to find answers to why after the second test they have slipped so far behind Mercedes, after dominating tests one and two in Barcelona. Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was third setting his best time just before the chequered flag.
Although testing may not be the most accurate indicators of performance, you need to say that Ferrari remains on the backfoot. At the last test in Bahrain, Ferrari capped of a disappointing weekend by a strong testing performance which has failed to translate into race pace.
Ferrari running two cars during the test, for there own programme which is trying to understand why they are losing so much time to Mercedes in the corners.
As with testing drama wasn’t far away, the main drama caused by Ferrari’s junior driver Calum Ilot. It is unknown what caused the British driver to crash his Alfa Romeo when he went off at Turn Three, but it caused heavy damage to his car and end his day.
Pierre Gasly also brought out the red flags, his Red Bull ground to a halt with seventy minutes remaining with a suspected transmission problem that struck at the exit of the chicane.
But the Frenchman had managed almost two race distances, ending the day fifth fastest and two and a half tenths off the pace. Carlos Sainz stayed sixth with his morning time, before handing the McLaren to teammate Lando Norris who ended the day tenth.
Haas’s test driver Pietro Fittipaldi put in a late lap to go seventh three-hundredths of a second faster than Racing Point simulator driver Nick Yelloly.
Yelloly’s driving on both days as he focuses on the team’s upgrade package from the weekend and correlation with the simulator.
Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, one of two cars conducting tyre testing for Pirelli, was ninth fastest on unmarked rubber. Vettel was over a second faster than the other Pirelli test driver Sergio Perez in eleventh. The duo separated by Norris.
No signs of a major step forward for Williams, the team remains at the bottom of the times with F2 championship leader Nicolas Latifi eleventh.
Testing resumes on Wednesday, with both Mercedes and Ferrari, set to hand their cars over to young, non-F1 drivers. Russian F2 driver Nikita Mazepin will drive the Mercedes and Antonio Fuoco in the Ferrari. While Vettel takes over the Pirelli test programme.