Valtteri Bottas held on to the fastest time on Wednesday, having completed a lap of 1:19.705s in the morning of the third day of pre-season testing.
Bottas set his best lap time on ultrasoft tyres. But Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was able to get to within a quarter of a second of the Mercedes in the afternoon, despite sticking to the soft compound.
However there was a setback for Ferrari at the end of the day’s session. After a remarkably reliable showing so far, Vettel’s car stopped in the pit lane with ten minutes remaining in the day’s session.
No one else came within a second of Bottas and Vettel’s impressive lap times. Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest for Red Bull on 1:21.153s, while fourth and fifth on the timing screens were a pair of Renaults. Jolyon Palmer ran in the morning and Nico Hulkenberg in the afternoon, both setting their best times on on soft compound tyres
- Bottas on top mid-day with sub-1min20s run
Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) was next up in sixth place, running on supersoft tyres for his fastest lap.
Bottas didn’t have the opportunity to reply to Vettel’s afternoon lap since he had handed over the car for the duration to his team mate Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton spent his time running race-length simulations on medium and soft tyres and finished only seventh fastest on 1:22.090s just ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean on 1:22.118s.
Hamilton’s race practice was interrupted by several red flags. Williams rookie Lance Stroll had two mishaps during the day to add to another he suffered on Tuesday.
His afternoon accident was the more serious of the pair, with the Canadian losing control of the car in turn 5 and hitting the barrier with an hour and a half to go. He was not able to resume before the chequered flag.
There was also an early end to the day for Carlos Sainz, who ran wide at turn four and beached his car in the gravel trap. He and Toro Rosso team mate Daniil Kvyat finished the day in 11th and 13th respectively. Force India’s development driver Alfonso Celis Jr separated them in 12th.
There was finally some much-needed cheer for McLaren. Fernando Alonso had a largely trouble-free day and completed 72 laps – more than the troubled car had managed on Monday and Tuesday combined.
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