Mercedes were once again quickest on the third day of Formula 1 pre-season testing at Barcelona, as Valtteri Bottas a comfortable two tenths ahead of neatest challenger, Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari.
Bottas was in the W08 in the morning and completed 75 laps of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with the quickest time of 1:19.705 being set on the UltraSoft tyre.
The best Vettel could manage in his 139 laps was a 1:19.952. However, the Ferrari set its best time on the Soft tyre, two compounds harder than the UltraSofts Bottas used.
Daniel Ricciardo was third quickest in his Red Bull, but was 1.448s off of the pace as Jolyon Palmer and Nico Hulkenberg split the driving duties at Renault, with the Brit having a difficult morning that included a spin into the gravel at turn three.
Stroll crashes again
Carlos Sainz had also brought out the red flags minutes earlier, interrupting the race simulation that Lewis Hamilton was running with an off at turn four in the Toro Rosso.
Owing to the new regulations, turn three is now a flat-out 160mph corner, but Palmer lost control of the RS17 in the morning session before handing over to Hulkenberg in the afternoon, who just about popped himself into the top five.
Better day for McLaren
After completing just over a race distance on the first two days of the test combined, McLaren and Fernando Alonso had a better day with the MCL32.
72 laps just about doubled the running the team had completed thus far and a 1:22.598s was the best Alonso could manage. Of course, not too much can be read into times, but this lap was set on the UltraSoft tyres, and was still 2.893s slower than Bottas's benchmark.
Celis Jr split the two Toro Rosso's on the final timing sheets, with Sainz in 11th and Danill Kvyat 13th quickest, with the Faenza team taking the route favoured by Mercedes of splitting the drivers running from morning to afternoon.
Day One of pre-season testing was spent checking the systems of the cars as was a majority of the second. Today, we got a glimpse of just how much quicker the new cars will be.
Last year, Hamilton's pole time was 1:22.000s. The new cars are expected to be around two-three seconds a lap quicker.
Bottas's time was 2.295s quicker than Hamilton's pole lap, which suggests that the predictions were just about right.
For the keen observers, the fact that Ferrari were just 0.247 slower than Mercedes on tyres that are twice as hard is encouraging. Fuel loads aren't know, but after a 139 lap day, Vettel's pace must be taken seriously.
|1.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1:19.705||-||UltraSoft||75 (Team Total 170)|
|3.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:21.153||+1.448||Soft||70|
|4.||Jolyon Palmer||Renault||1:21.396||+1.691||Soft||51 (Team Total 93)|
|5.||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||1:21.791||+2.086||Soft||42 (Team Total 93)|
|7.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:22.090||+2.385||Soft||95 (Team Total 170)|
|11.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Toro Rosso||1:23.540||+3.835||Medium||32 (Team Total 63)|
|12.||Alfonso Celis Jr||Force India||1:23.568||+3.863||SuperSoft||71|
|13.||Danill Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:23.952||+4.247||Medium||31 (Team Total 63)|