Mercedes returned to the top of the timesheets on the third day of Barcelona pre-season Formula 1 test, with new recruit Valtteri Bottas setting the fastest time for the Silver Arrows.
Bottas drove the W08 during the morning session, breaking the 1m20s barrier on Pirelli’s ultrasoft compound. Although he handed over the driving duties to teammate Lewis Hamilton in the afternoon, his lap time of 1m19.705s remained the fastest of all.
Ferrari ended the session just over two tenths behind Mercedes, with Sebastian Vettel clocking a 1m19.705s on the soft tyres.
However, it wasn’t a trouble free day for Scuderia with Vettel stopping on track in the dying minutes of the session. Nevertheless, the German racked up 139 laps before coming to a halt, giving Ferrari the crucial mileage they need to assess the SF70H.
Meanwhile, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest with a time of 1m21.153, although the Milton Keynes-based squad was severely behind on the mileage front.
Renault split the driving duties between Jolyon Palmer and Nico Hulkenberg, with the Englishman edging ahead despite a spin at Turn 2. The two Renault drivers were separated by four tenths of a second after logging nearly 100 laps between them.
Sauber enjoyed a productive third day in Barcelona, with Marcus Ericsson completing 126 laps to finish sixth fastest. His best time, however, was set on the supersoft tyres.
Hamilton was only seventh in the table after concentrating much of his running on completing a race simulation on soft tyres.
Behind, Romain Grosjean finished eighth in his first outing of the 2017 season with Haas.
Williams’ new signing Lance Stroll suffered his second crash of pre-season testing after he lost control of the FW40 after Turn 5, bringing out the red flags.
McLaren, however, enjoyed a much more productive day with Fernando Alonso racking up 72 laps to end the day 10th fastest, just ahead of countryman and Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz.
Force India’s test driver Alfonso Celis Jr finished 12th, while Daniil Kvyat was the slowest of all, having driven the STR12 during the morning session.
by Rachit Thukral