BOT­TAS THE FASTEST

Mercedes star sig­nif­i­cantly out­paces Raikko­nen’s fly­ing lap

New Straits Times - - Sport -

VALTTERI Bot­tas lapped Barcelona’s Cir­cuit de Catalunya faster than any driver in the V6 turbo era as For­mula One champions Mercedes en­joyed an­other trou­ble-free morn­ing in pre-sea­son test­ing yes­ter­day.

The Finn, whose re­tired pre­de­ces­sor and 2016 world cham­pion Nico Ros­berg paid a fly­ing visit dur­ing the sunny morn­ing ses­sion, com­pleted 75 laps with a best time of 1 minute 19.705 seconds on ul­tra-soft tyres.

That was a sig­nif­i­cant step up from the 1:20.960 set by Fer­rari’s Kimi Raikko­nen on soft tyres on Tues­day, which had ranked as the fastest of the open­ing 2017 test.

It also of­fered fur­ther ev­i­dence of how much quicker the new, wider cars are with their more ag­gres­sive aero­dy­nam­ics and fat­ter tyres.

The fastest time in 2016 Barcelona test­ing was 1:22.765. Bot­tas’s time would have put his car on pole po­si­tion for ev­ery race at the Span­ish cir­cuit since 2007, when the lay­out was changed.

The 1.6-litre V6 power units were in­tro­duced in 2014.

Aus­tralian Daniel Ric­cia­rdo was sec­ond fastest for Red Bull, 1.448 seconds slower. Re­nault’s Jolyon Palmer — who had an early spin into the gravel that brought out red flags — was third with a best lap set on softs.

Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel com­pleted more than a race dis­tance be­fore lunchtime, do­ing 69 laps on medium tyres, and was fourth fastest.

Cana­dian rookie Lance Stroll got back into the Wil­liams af­ter an early spin on Tues­day dam­aged the car and ended his first day of test­ing, and com­pleted 56 laps. The 18-year-old also ended up back in the gravel.

Honda-pow­ered McLaren con­tin­ued to strug­gle, with dou­ble world cham­pion Fer­nando Alonso man­ag­ing only 28 laps and more than four seconds off the pace. The team said their main fo­cus was gath­er­ing data.

Toro Rosso and Haas both spent long spells in the garage, with the for­mer’s Span­ish driver Car­los Sainz do­ing just one in­stal­la­tion lap in the morn­ing.

AP PIC

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bot­tas ex­its a curve while per­form­ing a race sim­u­la­tion dur­ing a For­mula One pre-sea­son test­ing ses­sion at the Catalunya race­track in Mont­melo, Barcelona yes­ter­day.

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