F1 Testing, Day Three: Valtteri Bottas storms clear as Mercedes shine
Bottas sets fastest time of F1 Testing and Hamilton completes another Merc one-two; Vettel returns after engine failure, Magnussen spins out; Watch Test Two on Sky Sports F1 next week
By Matt Morlidge in Barcelona
Last Updated: 21/02/20 5:51pm
Valtteri Bottas set a scintillating pace to finish Test One as Mercedes continued their storming start to F1 2020, while Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel suffered an engine problem on a day filled with on-track stoppages.
Bottas posted the fastest time of the winter so far after bolting on the C5, the quickest tyre available, in the morning session, with his 1:15.732 only three tenths off his own Barcelona track record.
And for the second time in a shortened three-day test, Mercedes impressively finished with a one-two on the timesheets as Lewis Hamilton made his mark after lunch, albeit seven tenths off his team-mate on the same tyre.
It was only apt that Mercedes - who have the quickest times, most laps and biggest innovation in the 'DAS' wheel from Test One - closed it off in style, and Bottas finished with a large advantage over the field.
Esteban Ocon was third for Renault, 1.3s off the leading pace, while Racing Point's Lance Stroll and AlphaTauri's Daniil Kvyat completed the top five - with all three drivers setting their team's best of the test on Day Three.
Red Bull have still yet to post an eye-catching time on the timesheets but continue to display impressive reliability with Max Verstappen (8th) and Alex Albon (10th) combining to post 169 laps.
And the Honda-powered team, unsurprisingly with Mercedes, have already been labelled as early-season favourites by Ferrari, who had a difficult day.
Vettel's morning programme was cut short after an engine problem caused him to grind to a halt at Turn 12. The four-time world champion returned in the afternoon and still managed to make it to 100 laps, but - while not pushing for performance in Barcelona - finished down in 12th.
That red flag for Vettel was the first of four on Friday.
Nicholas Latifi and Daniel Ricciardo also stopped on track, while Kevin Magnussen suffered a puncture in his Haas and went spinning onto the gravel.
That incident meant Magnussen only completed four laps.
F1 Testing Timesheet: Day Three
|1. Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1:15.732||65||C5|
|2. Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:16.516||73||C5|
|3. Esteban Ocon||Renault||1:17.102||76||C4|
|4. Lance Stroll||Racing Point||1:17.338||115||C4|
|5. Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri||1:17.427||62||C4|
|6. Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:17.469||152||C5|
|7. Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||1:17.574||93||C4|
|8. Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:17.636||86||C2|
|9. Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||1:17.783||59||C4|
|10. Alexander Albon||Red Bull||1:18.154||83||C2|
|11. Carlos Sainz||McLaren||1:18.273||76||C2|
|12. Romain Grosjean||Haas||1:18.380||48||C3|
|13. Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1:18.384||100||C3|
|14. Lando Norris||McLaren||1:18.454||49||C3|
|15. Nicholas Latifi||Williams||1:19.004||72||C3|
|16. Kevin Magnussen||Haas||1:19.709||4||C2|
Start of F1 2020 sets up intriguing Test Two
F1 Testing continues next week with another three days from the Circuit de Catalunya from Wednesday, February 26 - and there are plenty of talking points heading into next week.
Red Bull, for example, say they will start to reveal their pace in Test Two, and are expected to be close to the soaring Mercedes team when they do.
Ferrari, meanwhile, admitted they already have "concerns" about F1 2020.
"The others are faster than us at the moment," said team boss Mattia Binotto. "Mercedes and Red Bull are very fast on these first days."
The midfield battle looks closer than ever with six teams looking extremely evenly-matched - with Racing Point and McLaren standing out - while Williams have made gains to suggest they could yet join that fight.
Every minute Test Two, just like this week's action, will be live on Sky Sports F1.