F1 Testing: Ultrasoft run puts Bottas on top but Vettel close on softs

Valtteri Bottas ended the day on top of the timing screens - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Valtteri Bottas ended the third day of the first pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on top, but Sebastian Vettel continued to show good pace, finishing 0.247 seconds down on supposedly slower tyres.

Bottas racked up 75 laps during the morning session at the Spanish circuit before handing over to his Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team team-mate Lewis Hamilton, setting his fastest time of 1:19.075 on the Ultrasoft Pirelli compound.

But following Bottas in setting a time in the 1:19s was Scuderia Ferrari’s Vettel, who set his best time of 1:19.952 on the Soft compound, although the German’s day wasn’t without incident when he ground to a halt on the start/finish straight with nine minutes remaining.

Vettel had completed a day high 139 laps before his stoppage, with Marcus Ericsson of the Sauber F1 Team the only other driver to break through the 100-lap barrier, although Mercedes’ combined total of 170 laps dwarfed everyone else’s mileage.

Daniel Ricciardo ran 70 laps for Red Bull Racing in the RB13, finishing with a best time of 1:21.153, 1.448 seconds down on pacesetter Bottas but like Vettel set on the Soft tyre, as were the best times set by Renault Sport Formula 1 Team drivers Jolyon Palmer and Nico Hülkenberg, who ended up fourth and fifth as they split the days running.

Ericsson’s 125 laps saw him finish sixth fastest overall, with the Swede setting his best time of 1:21.824 in the Ferrari-powered C36, while Hamilton’s 95 laps, mostly set as part of a race simulation, saw his end up sixth.

Romain Grosjean got his first running of the week in the Haas F1 Team VF-17 after taking over from Kevin Magnussen, and ended up eighth quickest, just ahead of Lance Stroll, who after a spin in the morning session ended his day early for a second consecutive day with a late crash into the barriers. The Canadian hit the barriers at the exit of turn five and damaged the front end of his Williams Martini Racing FW40, but unlike on Tuesday when he completed only 12 laps, he managed 98 laps on Wednesday.

Fernando Alonso had a more productive day for the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team, completing 72 laps in the MCL32, but could only manage the tenth fastest time overall.

Carlos Sainz Jr took over the Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12 for the afternoon session from team-mate Daniil Kvyat, but stopped at turn four with an issue, the Spaniard ending up eleventh fastest, two places ahead of Kvyat, with Sahara Force India F1 Team’s test driver Alfonso Celis Jr in between.

Valtteri BottasFINMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:19.70575US
Sebastian VettelGBRScuderia Ferrari1:19.952139S
Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull Racing1:21.15370S
Jolyon PalmerGBRRenault Sport Formula 1 Team1:21.39651S
Nico HulkenbergGERSahara Force India F1 Team1:21.79142S
Marcus EricssonSWESauber F1 Team1:21.824126SS
Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:22.09095S
Romain GrosjeanFRAHaas F1 Team1:22.11856SS
Lance StrollCANWilliams Martini Racing1:22.35198S
Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren Honda Formula 1 Team1:22.59872US
Carlos Sainz JrESPScuderia Toro Rosso1:23.54032M
Alfonso Celis JrMEXSahara Force India F1 Team1:23.56871S
Daniil KvyatRUSScuderia Toro Rosso1:23.95231M