Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time of the third day of Formula 1 pre-season testing using the ultrasoft tyres, but Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel ended the day with a best time just 0.247s behind the Finn on the soft compound rubber.
The drivers were pushing more today, with a fourth and final day set to be set aside for wet tyre testing on a dampened track.
It was another encouraging day for the Italian squad, which has had a clean test so far with both drivers.
Bottas, who handed over to Lewis Hamilton for the afternoon running, worked his way through the three softest tyres in Pirelli’s range as he put in stints on the soft, supersoft and ultrasoft tyres during the 75 laps he completed during the morning session.
His best effort, which was also the fastest time seen so far during pre-season testing for the 2017 season, was a 1m19.705s, which came on the first lap of a five lap run on Ultras as the Finn focussed mainly on short runs after a race distance yesterday.
Vettel, who was back behind the wheel of Ferrari’s SF70H after his teammate Kimi Raikkonen topped the times during yesterday’s running, started out completing runs on the medium tyres during the morning before switching to the softs in the afternoon.
The four times world champion’s best lap was a 1m19.952s on the first lap of a three lap run on softs, he had a cool down lap and then tried a second lap which was 4/10ths slower. Vettel had been doing 10-12 lap runs in the 1m 22s prior to that, which is likely to have been on 30-40kg of fuel. Ferrari’s long run race pace from yesterday was more like 1m24s and 1m 25s.
Vettel’s time was – 1.008s faster than Raikkonen’s quickest lap yesterday – as he completed 139 tours of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the most of any single driver.
For the second day in a row Red Bull finished third quickest after Daniel Ricciardo put in a 1m21.153s shortly before the lunch break on the first flying lap of a five lap run on softs. He also did a 20 lap long run in the 1m 24s range during the afternoon, which broadly matched what Raikkonen did on Tuesday.
But after that the team was forced to spend much of the rest of the afternoon investigating an exhaust issue that meant the Australian driver only added 22 laps to his morning total.
Renault gave its drivers Jolyon Palmer and Nico Hulkenberg half a day each in the RS17 and they finished fourth and fifth on the timesheets after completing 51 and 42 laps respectively. Palmer caused the first red flag stoppage of the morning session when he spun off on the approach to Turn 3 shortly after the day got underway.
Marcus Ericsson gave Sauber its highest testing ranking so far as he closed the day in sixth place after using the red-walled supersoft tyres to set his best time during a series of short runs near the end of the morning session.
Romain Grosjean was eighth fastest for Haas F1, one place behind Hamilton, who completed 95 laps during his half day in the WO8, which gave Mercedes a total of 170. Like Bottas did yesterday, the triple world champion spent much if his time completing a race simulation.
Lance Stroll was given another day of running for Williams after his spin through the gravel yesterday meant he only completed 12 laps. While he did manage a further 98 today, the Canadian driver did cause a red flag as he ended up in the gravel at the very end of the morning session.
Things got worse for the 18-year-old later on when he crashed at the exit of Turn 5 with just under two hours of the day remaining. The incident damaged the front of his FW40 and forced Williams to call an early halt to its running for the second day in succession.
Fernando Alonso was finally able to rack up some significant mileage in McLaren’s MCL32, which struggled with power unit problems during the previous two days of running. The Spaniard completed 72 laps, with his best time 2.893s behind Bottas’, which he also set on the ultrasoft tyre. But Honda clearly had the engine turned down a bit as Alonso was 13km/h slower through the speed traps than the benchmark cars.
Carlos Sainz finished 11th for Toro Rosso – he completed 32 laps in the afternoon and caused a red flag when he stopped in the gravel at Turn 4 – after his teammate Daniil Kvyat’s drove for 31 laps in the morning. Force India’s Alfonso Celis Jr split the Toro Rosso drivers in 12th place, as the Mexican driver managed 70 laps in the VJM10.
Barcelona test one, day three, results:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m19.705s, 75 laps (ultrasofts)
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m19.952s +0.247s, 139 laps (softs)
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1m21.153s +1.448s, 70 laps (softs)
4 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m21.396s +1.691s, 51 laps (softs)
5 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m21.791s +2.086s, 42 laps (softs)
6 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1m21.824s +2.119s, 126 laps (supersoft)
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m22.090s +2.385s, 95 laps (softs)
8 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 1m22.118s +2.413s, 56 laps (supersoft)
9 Lance Stroll Williams 1m22.351s +2.646s, 98 laps (softs)
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1m22.598s +2.893s, 72 laps (ultrasofts)
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1m23.540s +3.835s, 32 laps (mediums)
12 Alfonso Celis Force India 1m23.568s +3.863s, 71 laps (supersoft)
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1m23.952s +4.247s, 31 laps (mediums)
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