Mercedes and Bottas fastest as Barcelona test closes

by James Eagles

Valtteri Bottas was the fastest man at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, drawing the first, two-day in-season test of 2018 to a close.

Bottas’s time of a 1 minute 16.904 seconds, set in the morning session on super-soft tyres, was six-hundredths of a second faster than Scuderia Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi, with McLaren F1 Team protégé Lando Norris recording the third fastest time, over a second shy of Bottas and Giovinazzi.

Bottas traded places with the Italian on numerous occasions before the lunchtime break, the latter unable to beat Bottas’s best time even when using the hyper-soft compound – which will make its race debut at the Monaco Grand Prix weekend. However, Giovinazzi recorded the most distance of anyone in the field by completing 148 laps, nine more than his Mercedes counterpart.

Norris, who set his best time on the soft compound, saw his running dented by a harmless spin in the morning at Turn 12 and a “minor issue” in the afternoon, the MCL33 stopping out on track.

Continuing on from his promising Spanish Grand Prix performance, Kevin Magnussen took fourth for the Haas F1 Team, ahead of Sahara Force India F1 Team reserve Nikita Mazepin – who left it late in the day to set his time.

In his first taste of a modern-era Formula 1 car, Jack Aitken was sixth for the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team setting a best time of 1:18.942 on super-soft tyres during the morning. The British-Korean driver clocked up a pleasing 120 laps, calling the chance an “amazing experience”.

Similarly to Aitken, neither the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team‘s Charles Leclerc or Williams Martini Racing‘s Robert Kubica could register improvements in the afternoon, leaving them seventh and eighth respectively.

Despite only having half a day in the car, Pierre Gasly found himself comfortably quicker than Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda stand-in Sean Gelael by 1.3 seconds. The Frenchman also beat Stoffel Vandoorne, the McLaren acting as one of Pirelli‘s test cars.

Another test debutant, Jake Dennis showed signs of improvement as the day progressed setting his best time on the medium compound for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. Nicholas Latifi, another one of the Pirelli test cars, propped up the order for Force India.

1Valtteri BOTTASMercedes1:16.904-139
2Antonio GIOVINAZZIFerrari1:16.972+0.068148
3Lando NORRISMcLaren1:18.039+1.13580
4Kevin MAGNUSSENHaas1:18.274+1.37075
5Nikita MAZEPINForce India1:18.344+1.440112
6Jack AITKENRenault1:18.942+2.038120
7Charles LECLERCSauber1:18.993+2.089139
8Robert KUBICAWilliams1:19.253+2.349123
9Pierre GASLYToro Rosso1:19.410+2.50639
10Stoffel VANDOORNEMcLaren1:19.914+3.01096
11Jake DENNISRed Bull1:20.440+3.53675
12Sean GELAELToro Rosso1:20.763+3.85983
13Nicholas LATIFIForce India1:21.412+4.508121



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