Mercedes were forced to miss almost the entirety of the afternoon session on the first day of pre-season testing, after an oil pressure problem forced Valtteri Bottas to stop on track.
Bottas had been due to take over the W10 during the afternoon, after Lewis Hamilton was on duty during the morning track time. However, the Finn had literally only just pulled out onto the track when he was forced to pull over and stop as he went through Turn 3.
The stoppage resulted in a relatively lengthy red flag period as the car was retrieved and Bottas brought back to the pits. After a while, it became evident that the stoppage was not minor: Mercedes saying they needed to do a power unit change on the car. It was the first serious technical problem to hit the team during testing and it proved costly in terms of track time: Bottas didn’t rejoin until just ten minutes remained in the day.
“Unfortunately, after four days of flawless reliability last week, I spent most of the day waiting as we had an oil pressure issue on my first outlap and had to change the Power Unit.” said a downbeat Bottas afterwards.
“But I’m glad I still got to do a few laps, the team did a really good job to get the car out again; it was important to get a bit of a feel for the new aero package. My running was obviously very limited, but it seems like we’ve made improvements. We need to review everything in more detail tonight and I’m looking forward to continuing our programme tomorrow morning.”
The handful of laps that Bottas put in right at the end of the session was enough to move him from the bottom of the times. He got out for seven laps on the C2 tyre and put in a 1:20.167 to place P11.
Lewis Hamilton fared marginally better in the morning, as he did a total of 83 laps. Using the C2 tyre as well, his best time of 1:20.332 placed him in P12. With Mercedes running a raft of bodywork updates on the W10, he said that there was an evident improvement in balance: “We got through our run programme and the car was feeling relatively good. It was an improvement from last week which is a good step. The tyres are also working a better now that the track temperature is a bit higher. We have to continue to analyse everything and keep pushing.”