Valtteri Bottas continued Mercedes’ flying start to the 2020 F1 season after going fastest on the final day of the first week of pre-season testing.
The Finn’s 1m15.732 was by far the quickest time set so far at the Catalunya circuit – and was just three tenths shy of his pole position time at the track last year.
And to complete a perfect day for Mercedes six-time world champion team-mate Lewis Hamilton was able to finish the day second fastest, having taken over from Bottas in the afternoon.
But despite setting his time on the softest tyre compound the Brit was a few tenths down on Bottas, whose regenerated ‘3.0’ version will be looking to mount a consistent title charge this season.
Mercedes the team to beat
On track the new Mercedes W11 looks like a force to be reckoned with, ending week one of pre-season testing with the most quickest laps and a brand new DAS system that’s got everyone talking.
The system allows the drivers to adjust the toe angle of the car by pulling the steering wheel towards them in the cockpit.
Over the rest of the field, the gap between Mercedes and the rest of the field is noticeable. Esteban Ocon set the third fastest time in his new Renault, but was 1.3 seconds off the pace of Bottas’ best time.
Lance Stroll continued Racing Point’s impressive form so far by going fourth fastest while Daniil Kvyat rounded off the top five in the newly re-branded AlphaTauri car.
Mercedes main rivals nowhere in sight
But Mercedes’ main rivals Ferrari and Red Bull remained out of sight as the first week of testing drew to a close. Max Verstappen was only eighth fastest in his Red Bull, while Sebastian Vettel was only 13th for Ferrari.
And the Italian team’s day was not helped by an engine problem, which halted Vettel’s morning programme as he came to a stop on the circuit.
This brought out the red flag – the first of four over the course of the day.
Kevin Magnussen stopped the session after suffering a puncture on his Haas and running into the gravel, while Daniel Ricciardo and Nicholas Latifi also stopped on circuit.
Latifi, Williams’ new driver for 2020, ended the session 15th fastest, one place behind Lando Norris in 14th for McLaren.
Following his puncture Magnussen ended the day last, only completing four laps in total.