Mercedes cap off first week of testing with a 1-2 thanks to Bottas flyer on Day 3
Valtteri Bottas’s sensational lap sent him top of the timesheets on the final day of the first week of 2020 pre-season testing as Mercedes took a 1-2 with Lewis Hamilton jumping to second in the afternoon – albeit nearly a second off his team mate’s blistering flying lap.
With their DAS system still grabbing headlines, Mercedes continued their impressive pace with Bottas setting his leading lap of 1m15.732s on the softest – C5 – tyre compound with Hamilton’s time of 1m16.642s coming likewise on the softest rubber.
Both Silver Arrows drivers managed more than a full Grand Prix distance on Day 3, underlining their reliability as they prepare to fight for a seventh consecutive constructors' championship.
Ferrari, on the other hand, caused the first red flag of the day when Sebastian Vettel’s SF1000 suffered an engine problem. The problematic power unit was returned to Maranello and Vettel was sent back out in the afternoon to finish 13th, after completing 100 laps.
In third was former Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Ocon for Renault who set a total of 76 laps in the morning before handing over to team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who finished in 14th.
The Australian managed 93 laps in a productive day for Renault despite a stop at Turn 9 that caused the fourth and final red flag of the day before he had a harmless spin at Turn 13 later in the session.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll – who managed 116 laps overall – finished just over two-tenths behind Ocon. Questions remained over the pink car’s Mercedes-like appearance as Stroll’s pace and reliability looked encouraging on Friday.
AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top five having completed the morning for the new-look squad; while team mate Pierre Gasly headed out in the afternoon and completed four fewer laps than the Russian to finish ninth with a late surge.
As for Red Bull, morning runner Max Verstappen had another solid session with 86 laps and an eighth-place finish while Alex Albon managed 84 to round out the top 10.
It was P6 for Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi who capped off a solid week for the team as he managed 152 laps and led the drivers' lap chart on Friday.
McLaren tested two different front-wing endplates on the final day and Lando Norris shared duties with Carlos Sainz. Norris finished 14th in an afternoon session that yielded 49 laps before brake issues and other problems kept him garage-bound, while Sainz managed 76 in the morning.
Nicholas Latifi’s Williams (15th) came to a halt on the pit exit in a puff of smoke nearing the end of the morning session, though the Canadian returned late in the day and had 72 laps dusted off by close of play.
For Haas, the day ended early in the afternoon as Kevin Magnussen’s VF-20 suffered a puncture and went careering into the Turn 8 gravel, clunking the wall. His tally sat at four laps with Romain Grosjean completing 48 in the morning. The American outfit ended the week having completed the fewest laps of all 10 teams, not helped by crashes from both Magnussen and Grosjean, who damaged his rear wing after a tangle with the barriers on Thursday.
So that's it for the first week of pre-season testing, but all 10 teams will be back in action on Wednesday next week for another three days of running as they try to extract every ounce of pace and performance from their cars before heading to Melbourne for the season opener in March.
Jolyon Palmer's verdict: Renault with solid showing on final day
"Renault had a good day. Ocon's time was 'best of the rest' this morning, and Ricciardo on the same compound tyre [C4] could have matched that were it not for a spin in the last sector.
"They have racked up a lot of laps today at last after lagging behind yesterday, and the team seem happy with their times although there is still fine tuning to do ahead of next week. Today has salvaged their week and been a good day for the team."