Mercedes back on top on day 3 of test

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The third day of testing has ended and while Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas, clocked the fastest lap at 1m19.705s, it was made on the Ultra-soft Pirelli tire compound and that’s to be expected. Mercedes, still the team to beat, is quick and I’ve no reason to believe they’ve turned the wick completely up in this first test.

Like last year’s first test, Mercedes has piled on the mileage and if there’s any key metric to measure or judge testing, it is the amount of trouble-free running the teams can accumulate. The 2017 season, with its 4-engine rule, will be critical for teams to have durability AND performance from their hybrid power unit.

Valtteri’s 3-time champion teammate, Lewis Hamilton, ran a full race simulation and set a 1m22.175s lap in the afternoon on medium and soft compounds.

Williams is finding their testing session to be a bit of challenge in that they have a rookie in Canadian Lance Stroll who ended their day on Tuesday with a damaged front wing after a run through the gravel and then two more offs on Wednesday with the final one in the barriers an causing more damage. Not a great start for a youngster who is already facing harsh criticism about how he got his ride and the suggestions that it may not be merit but money.

While Mercedes look terrific so far, one can’t discount the job Ferrari have been doing and doing much of that job on medium tires. Their pace is not far off the Mercedes, who set their times on softer tires, and although Sebastian Vettel stopped late in Wednesdays session at the start/stop line, he did put in another 139 laps and was just two tenths off Bottas’s fast lap—on medium tires no less.

The big recovery of the day was the 72 laps that Fernando Alonso managed in his troubled MCL32 McLaren. The team have struggled since coming to Barcelona this week but the Spaniard managed to set a 1m22.598s lap.

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m19.705s 75
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m19.952s 0.247s 139
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m21.153s 1.448s 70
4 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m21.396s 1.691s 51
5 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m21.791s 2.086s 42
6 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m21.824s 2.119s 126
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m22.090s 2.385s 95
8 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m22.118s 2.413s 56
9 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m22.351s 2.646s 98
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m22.598s 2.893s 72
11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 1m23.540s 3.835s 32
12 Alfonso Celis Force India/Mercedes 1m23.568s 3.863s 71
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Renault 1m23.952s 4.247s 31

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MIE
Editor

While Vettel spent most of the day on medium tyres, AUTOSPORT has his best time set on softs. It is still impressive compared to the Mercedes. However Mercedes weren’t going much faster when changing to the softer compounds (0.3 from soft to super soft, and only another 0.1 seconds going to ultra soft). Before anyone gets too excited about Ferrari being competitive this season, at this point last year Ferrari had recorded a 1’22.810 while Mercedes had only managed a best of 1’24.867 The teams have different approaches to how they conduct their testing. On distance covered, Ferrari are closest… Read more »

Salvu Borg
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Salvu Borg

FERRAEI second best time (0.247 sec) was set on a compound 2 steps harder then the compound the best time was set on. But even so I am being pushed to believe that the car that set the best time wasn’t really trying hard, while the FERRARI was trying as hard as possible. FERRARI is rock solid and fast, A reporter covering testing from on track reporting for a website that declared they are in love with Mercedes and number 44 couldn’t hold back any more and reported today “watching FERRARI at turns 1-3 is my wow factor, the FERRARI… Read more »

MIE
Editor

Ferrari could well end up this season’s dominant team, or it could be Mercedes, or Red Bull. The point is we don’t yet know. At this point last year Ferrari were two second faster than Mercedes. It comes down to whether the developments the team’s bring to the cars next week and in Australia work. I don’t have the ability to predict which team’s developments will be most effective especially as they have yet to be seen. Yesterday you stated both teams were trying their absolute hardest to set a good time, yet today the were over a second faster.… Read more »

Salvu Borg
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Salvu Borg

Only FERRARI was trying hard, Mercedes were not, and once again, at least me was talking about these three testing days and not about last year or what to come later on.

MIE
Editor

So did they try really hard today to find over a second? Sorry, but I just don’t buy it.

Salvu Borg
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Salvu Borg

The way I understand your reasoning, FERRARI was trying their hardest but Mercedes was not.
And MIE, I am not trying to sell you or anybody anything, just stating my opinion.

MIE
Editor

No, I don’t think any team are yet trying their hardest. Some may be, but it would be odd timing as there is still five days of pre season testing to bring new developments to the car.
Right now it is important for the team’s to be able to get through their testing programme without reliability issues. In this respect Mercedes and Ferrari are ahead of the rest. I don’t think we can determine the relative performance of any team yet.

Salvu Borg
Guest
Salvu Borg

as I said, at least “me” was talking about these last 3 days of testing, in my opinion FERRARI looks the strongest/fastest/most consistent, that’s just my opinion. yes nobody can tell what will happen with new developments later on, all one can have are pointers. repeat, we, at least me was/were talking about what happened up to now. just one observation, what happened to the Mercedes in the afternoon long runs? it certainly looked skittish cornering with number 44 at the wheel having to lift off all the time, have they disconnected their trick suspension just in case things go… Read more »