Mercedes’ Bottas fastest on ultrasofts but Ferrari stay close

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Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time so far on day three of the first F1 test in Barcelona but Ferrari continued to impress, with Sebastian Vettel getting to within three tenths of the Finn on a harder compound tyre.

Bottas’s best time of 1:19.75 came ion the morning session when the new Mercedes recruit bolted on a set of Pirelli’s purple-banded ultrasoft tyres. The time was eye-catching but Sebastian Vettel’s afternoon lap just 0.247s adrift of the Mercedes man was perhaps more significant, given that it was set on softy tyres, two steps up Pirelli’s range.

For the third day running Ferrari managed impressive reliability, with Vettel logging 139 laps. It wasn’t perfect, however, as the German’s car ground to a halt close to the start-finish straight with less than 10 minutes left in the session.

Vettel’s tally was put in the shade by Mercedes, however. Bottas 75 laps in the morning before handing over to Lewis Hamilton and the Briton worked through a further 95 laps during afternoon race simulations to give the champions a day total of 170 laps.

Hamilton’s long running in the second half of the session and his use of medium and soft compounds meant that he ended the day in P8 on the timesheet with a best time of 1:22.175.

Behind Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo was third-fastest for Red Bull Racing, thougn it was another day of frustration for the Australian. On day one a sensor issue and a battery problem disrupted Ricciardo’s running and today he was restricted to 70 laps in total. Forty-eight of those came in the morning as the team worked through aero tests but the Australian was only to add 22 more in the afternoon as an exhaust problem halted the team in its tracks.

Renault’s Jolyon Palmer slotted into fourth place a little over two tenths behind the French outfit’s customer team. Palmer later handed over driving duties to team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, with the former Force India driver taking fifth place just under four tenths of a second off the Briton’s pace. Marcus Ericsson was sixth for Sauber ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Hamilton.

Ninth place on the timesheet went to Williams’ Lance Stroll. It was another tough day on the learning curve for the Canadian rookie, however. The Montreal native crashed out on first day in the Williams FW40 and after an off just before the lunch break today, the afternoon session saw him crash out again, the youngster hitting the barriers on the exit of Turn 5. The reigning FIA F3 European champion had, however, posted a solid 98 lap total before the incident.

Tenth quickest was Fernando Alonso who also put 72 laps on the board for McLaren, three more than the team’s total over the first two days in Barcelona. Carlos Sainz was 11th for Toro Rosso, while Force India tester Alfonso Celis propped up the time with a lap almost four seconds adrift of pace-setting Bottas.

2017 Formula One Testing – Barcelona Test 1, Day 3

1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:19.705s – 75
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:19.952s 0.247s 139
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:21.153s 1.448s 70
4 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:21.396s 1.691s 51
5 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:21.791s 2.086s 42
6 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:21.824s 2.119s 126
7 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:22.118s 2.413s 56
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:22.175s 2.470s 95
9 Lance Stroll Williams 1:22.351s 2.646s 98
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:22.598s 2.893s 72
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:23.540s 3.835s 32
12 Alfonso Celis Force India 1:23.568s 3.863s 71
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:23.952s 4.247s 31