Mercedes returned to the top of the F1 leaderboard during the second day of the final Barcelona pre-season test, with Valtteri Bottas setting the quickest time of 2017 so far on Wednesday.
During the early hours of running, Bottas clocked the Circuit de Catalunya in 1:19.310s, putting the Finn one tenth clear of Tuesday pacestter and Felipe Massa.
Bottas’ fastest time was four tenths clear of the previous best time of 2017, which the Mercedes driver himself set last week in the first pre-season test.
Interestingly, Bottas’ lap time from today came on the comparatively slower supersoft tyre, suggesting Mercedes is now able to eke out more performance from the W08.
Meanwhile, Massa continued his impressive showing, setting a time of 1:19.420s on the ultrasoft compound.
Massa’s rookie teammate Lance Stroll returned to action for the first time since his crash last week, logging 59 laps to end fifth fastest.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was sixth quickest with a 1:20.406, but his day was cut short when he crashed into the barriers at Turn 3 with just two hours remaining in the session.
Max Verstappen, who finished just three hundredths of a second behind in fourth, also stopped on track in the final hour of the session. However, by then Verstappen had racked up over a hundred laps, more than any other driver today.
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton took over the driving duties from Bottas in the afternoon and ended up 1.4s behind his teammate in sixth.
He was followed by Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Force India’s Sergio Perez, the former teammates finishing within a tenth of a second in seventh and eighth respectively.
Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz was classified ninth, while Haas’ Romain Grosjean completed the Top 10.
Fernando Alonso ran trouble free on Wednesday, but his best effort was nearly four seconds off Bottas’ benchmark.
Marcus Ericsson was another driver to bring the red flag today, the Sauber racer parking his car at the exit of Turn 8.
Finally, Jolyon Palmer finished at the bottom of the timesheets with a paltry total of 29 laps, having taken over the keys of the Renault from Hulkenberg after the lunch break.
1. Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes - 1:19.310 - 70 laps
2. Felipe Massa - Williams - 1:19.420 - 63 laps
3. Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari - 1:20.406 - 53 laps
4. Max Verstappen - Red Bull - 1:20.432 - 102 laps
5. Lance Stroll - Williams - 1:20.579 - 59 laps
6. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 1:20.702 - 79 laps
7. Nico Hulkenberg - Renault - 1:21.213 - 61 laps
8. Sergio Perez - Force India - 1:21.297 - 100 laps
9. Carlos Sainz - Toro Rosso - 1:21.872 - 92 laps
10. Romain Grosjean - Haas - 1:21.887 - 96 laps
11. Pascal Wehrlein - Sauber - 1:23.000 - 59 laps
12. Fernando Alonso - McLaren - 1:23.041 - 46 laps
13. Marcus Ericsson - Sauber - 1:23.384 - 46 laps
14. Jolyon Palmer - Renault - 1:24.774 - 29 laps
by Rachit Thukral