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.
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m21.153s||1.448s||70|
|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|