Barcelona Testing – Lap times were coming down heavily thanks to Valtteri Bottas, who was fastest in the morning session on the third day of testing.
The Finn spent most of the morning on the soft tyres, teasing a sub-1:20 lap time on the yellow-marked tyre.
He then moved on to the supersoft tyres before setting his fastest lap on the ultrasofts, doing a 1:19.705 for the purple-walled tyre’s first appearance at pre-season testing.
Bottas’ time was faster than the pole position record around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and was 1.4 seconds quicker than Daniel Ricciardo in second on softs.
For the majority of the session, he diced with Sebastian Vettel for the fastest time, with the Ferrari running medium tyres. He ended the session fourth, some 1.9 seconds down on Bottas.
Lewis Hamilton will take over from Bottas in the afternoon.
There was only one red flag during the session which was brought out, before even the half-hour marked was reached, by Jolyon Palmer who spun at Turn 3 and ended up in the gravel.
The Renault driver had several aero sensors on his car at the time, so he was not pushing his car anywhere near the limit. But a bitterly cold track that was below 15°C at the start of the session meant there was very little grip through the high speed right-hander.
Palmer recovered well and still managed to clock 51 laps despite the delay, using the soft tyre to set the third fastest time of the morning. He will hand the car over to Nico Hulkenberg for the afternoon.
Marcus Ericsson was the only other driver in the session to set their fastest lap on the supersoft tyre. He was fifth fastest, clocking an impressive 54 laps during the session. Antonio Giovinazzi is due in the car for the rest of the day.
Lance Stroll was put back in the car out of schedule to allow him to catch up on lost track time after a spin on Tuesday morning put him out of the running for the whole day. However, he ended the session in the gravel trap, going off in the final seconds of the session.
He managed 55 laps and was sixth fastest on the soft tyre, ahead of Alfonso Celis Jr.
McLaren had a much smoother morning that the first two days of testing. After two power unit changes at the start of the week, the MCL32 was allowed to run consistently on track.
Fernando Alonso spent most of the session gathering data with aero sensors, putting in 28 laps.
Daniil Kvyat was ninth fastest on the medium tyre, with Carlos Sainz set to finish off the day’s running, ahead of Romain Grosjean who spent an hour in the garage whilst his Haas mechanics made set-up changes. He did 27 laps.