The Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time of winter testing so far on day two of the second test at Barcelona, as Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen crashed out and McLaren’s running was once again severely curtailed.
Bottas’ lap, a 1:19.310 set on supersoft tyres, beat his own previous benchmark, a 1:19.705 registered on ultrasoft tyres at last week’s first test. The time, which was four tenths quicker than last week, is still not enough to break the testing lap record around this track, but it is not far off. It is interesting to note that the Mercedes has been running the softer and faster tyres like the super and ultra softs a lot more over the two testing days than they did last season. Leaving many to wonder if that would suggest perhaps the field would be tighter. If you look at a team like Ferrari, who haven’t seemed to have made that much of an impression on the top of the time sheets compared to last year, the team have predominantly used the medium and soft compound tyres for most of their running. Mercedes have admitted that they think one of their biggest competitors this year will be Ferrari, and it is interesting when you look at the tyre corrected data in cases like this, that they may just be right.
Another team who are making their presence felt is the Williams team. The Grove based team topped the timesheets on the first day and proved again today that was not by a fluke. Soon after Bottas set his fastest time of the day Massa responded in his Williams, managing a 1:19.420 which was also three-tenths up on his day one best. On this occasion, Massa was running on the ultrasoft compound, the fastest tyre available for a driver to use. But after also running on the purple-coloured tyre, Bottas was unable to extract any more lap time out of the ultrasoft tyres than he had produced on the supersoft tyres. The result is Massa’s lap time was the fastest any car has produced on the ultrasoft tyres, which will be encouraging for Williams.
Ferrari were third after running the soft tyres once again with Raikkonen, resulting in him being off the pace slightly compared to Bottas and Massa. The team so far have had a quiet but productive pre-season test, having only topped the timing sheets twice this year compared to the five times they topped it in pre-season last year. However, the team weren’t without their issues on the second day, as midway through the afternoon Raikkonen spun at the high-speed Turn Three and crashed into the barriers. Although Raikkonen was unhurt in the crash, the damage inflicted to the car meant he was unable to return to action.
Red Bull were fourth today with Verstappen marginally slower than Raikkonen. Verstappen’s participation was also compromised, first by an engine change for the RB13 and then a late stoppage on track after another power unit failure. It was the second day in a row that the new Renault power unit has had to be changed after the team made a precautionary switch on the first day of the second test. Despite this, Red Bull’s day proved positive overall and they reached 100 laps in one day for the first time in 2017.
“We had a similar issue as this morning, but they are on top of it now and they should have solutions in place for the future,” Verstappen said after his run. “I am quite confident because the Renault boys already have some plans to change it for Melbourne anyway.”
Meanwhile it was business as usual at McLaren, and by business we mean another day of merry hell that is pre-season testing. Fernando Alonso completed just 46 laps, the fewest of any driver in a car for the entire day, and finished a distant 12th in the timesheets. The team were quick to deny that the issue was engine related, but the car was stationary in the garage for four hours of testing while the team fixed something on it. Leading many to suspect the McLaren has had to have another engine change. The team may not be impressed with Honda’s power unit, but Alonso appears to have had enough of their excuses and deliver a scathing remark at the end of the day about the power unit struggles. Famous for once branding the Honda engines as “GP2 engines” the Spaniard did not hold back in laying the teams current problems at Honda’s door.
“I don’t think we are too far back with the chassis, we have only one problem which is the power unit. There is no reliability and there is no power. We are 30kph down on the straight.”
Day Two, Test Two Timesheet
1) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 70 laps, supersoft tyres, 1:19.310
2) Felipe Massa, Williams, 63 laps, ultrasoft tyres, 1:19.420
3) Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 53 laps, soft tyres 1:20.406
4) Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 102 laps, soft tyres, 1:20.432
5) Lance Stroll, Williams, 59 laps, supersoft tyres, 1:20.579
6) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 79 laps, soft tyres, 1:20.702
7) Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 61 laps, supersoft tyres, 1:21.213
8) Sergio Perez, Force India, 100 laps, supersoft tyres, 1:21.297
9) Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 92 laps, soft tyres, 1:21.872
10) Romain Grosjean, Haas, 96 laps, ultrasoft tyres, 1:21.887
11) Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber, 59 laps, soft tyres, 1:23.000;
12) Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 46 laps, soft tyres, 1:23.04156
13) Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 47 laps, soft tyres, 1:23.384
14) Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 29 laps, supersoft tyres, 1:24.774
Feature Image Credit: Scuderia Ferrari F1 Press Release