Valtteri Bottas set a new fastest time overall in this year’s Formula 1 pre-season testing after lapping around Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in 1:19.310 for Mercedes on Wednesday morning.
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The Finn improved his benchmark from last week by nearly four tenths on Pirelli’s red-striped supersoft compound.
Bottas’ effort is over five seconds faster than Nico Rosberg’s 2015 Spanish Grand Prix pole position (1:24.681), with that year’s times used as yardsticks when drafting the new technical regulations.
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The 27-year-old led Williams’ Felipe Massa, who finished 0.110s adrift on the ultrasoft tyre.
Both drivers will hand over testing duties to their respective team-mates in the afternoon, with triple world champion Lewis Hamilton and F1 rookie Lance Stroll scheduled after lunch break.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen slotted into third in the SF70H, though a fluid systems check limited the 2007 world champion’s running.
Fourth fastest went Red Bull ace Max Verstappen, with the Dutchman posting his best effort on the soft tyre.
Fifth quickest was Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, with the French manufacturer enjoying smoother running than 24 hours ago when engine problems hampered its progress. Team-mate Jolyon Palmer will replace the German this afternoon.
Following Tuesday’s electrical problem on team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne’s Honda power unit, Fernando Alonso’s performance was under close watch.
The Spaniard initially settled for installation laps in MCL32 but eventually clocked a few lap times, the best of which was only good enough for P10 and bottom of the timesheets, 3.7s off Bottas’ table-topping pace.
F1 testing resumes at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya at 14:00, local time. Make sure to follow our live coverage on our dedicated, as-it-happens page.
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