Valtteri Bottas sets winter's quickest time, Kimi Raikkonen spins out
Second Formula One Winter Test - Day 2

Valtteri Bottas sets winter's quickest time, Kimi Raikkonen spins out

08/03/2017

Valtteri Bottas hinted that times are likely to keep coming down in the final days of 2017 winter testing as he lowered the pre-season benchmark on a day Kimi Raikkonen finished with his Ferrari in the wall.

Last week Bottas set a 1:19.705 -- five seconds quicker than the pole time for the 2015 Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya, something used as a target for the wider cars introduced this season. That lap was set on the ultra-soft tyre but on Wednesday Bottas shaved 0.5s off that time with the red-striped super-softs bolted on to his Mercedes W08 -- proving the teams are yet to extract the true performance of Pirelli's wider rubber.

Bottas achieved the lap time in the hour before lunch before handing the car over to teammate Lewis Hamilton, who completed 79 laps to give the team a combined total of 149 for the day. Hamilton finished 1.3s down on his teammate despite running in more representative conditions of a normal Spanish GP -- especially in the early afternoon -- highlighting again why it is unwise to treat headline times as gospel at this stage of winter testing.

Massa -- straight back in the car after his mammoth 168-lap stint for Williams on Tuesday -- finished 0.1s behind Bottas' time, setting his fastest lap on the ultra-soft tyres, having completed 63 laps in the morning. Rookie teammate Lance Stroll took over for the afternoon session and managed to avoid another crash after costing the team an entire day with a shunt on Wednesday last week. It was another healthy day of mileage for the FW40, a car gaining plenty of admirers in the paddock from its exploits this week.

Kimi Raikkonen finished third for Ferrari but was unable to come anywhere close to Sebastian Vettel's 168 laps from yesterday, spinning out on his 54th lap at Turn 3; the Finn appeared to lose the rear of the car coming through the corner on medium tyres, damaging his front wing on impact and beaching in the gravel. It is the first proper blemish on Ferrari's pre-season record so far. Max Verstappen completed a century of laps for Red Bull on a day which included an engine change over lunch -- though it finished with a stoppage in the closing 15 minutes of the session.

Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh and completed 61 laps for Renault in the morning, though teammate Jolyon Palmer was delayed for his afternoon run and added just 29 before the end of the session. Sergio Perez completed exactly 100 laps for Force India on another solid day of mileage for the Silverstone-based team, adding to the 142 accumulated by Esteban Ocon on Tuesday. Force India's headline times have been nothing spectacular in pre-season but the hefty lap count is a good start to the second week of testing after encountering niggling issues at the start of pre-season.

Carlos Sainz ended the day ninth in the eye-catching STR12, accumulating a healthy 92 laps. Like Williams, Toro Rosso lost an entire day of running last week, so Sainz's lap tally will come as a welcome boost for the team after suffering numerous issues since switching back to Renault power ahead of this season.

Haas continued its quiet but impressive winter campaign with Romain Grosjean, who finished the day with 96 laps to his name. The team has suffered no repeat of its disastrous second test last year -- its debut F1 season -- and is consistently finishing the days in the upper reaches of the lap charts. Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson split driving duties for Sauber, completing a combined 105 laps. Wehrlein accounted for 59 of them as he continues to get to grips with 2017 machinery -- the German-Mauritian made his first appearance on Tuesday after missing the entire first week due to a back injury. Ericsson finished the day and prompted a red flag in the closing moments of the session with a stoppage at 18:00 local time.

It was another uninspiring day for McLaren and Honda. Fernando Alonso finished down in 12th position and completed just 46 laps -- the lowest by any team on Wednesday. When the Spaniard did complete laps he did so in small bursts, though the MCL30 continues to look a handful when it is on track. Most bizarrely, during a spell of inactivity in the afternoon, Honda told the media the team was going through its schedule "as planned", raising serious questions about the team's readiness for the new campaign.

Times at close:

1. Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes - 1:19.310 - 70 laps (morning)
2. Felipe Massa - Williams - 1:19.420 - 63 laps (morning)
3. Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari - 1:20.406 - 53 laps
4. Max Verstappen - Red Bull - 1:20.432 - 102 laps
5. Lance Stroll - Williams - 1:20.579 - 59 laps (afternoon)
6. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 1:20.702 - 79 laps (afternoon)
7. Nico Hulkenberg - Renault - 1:21.213 - 61 laps (morning)
8. Sergio Perez - Force India - 1:21.297 - 100 laps
9. Carlos Sainz - Toro Rosso - 1:21.872 - 92 laps
10. Romain Grosjean - Haas - 1:21.887 - 96 laps
11. Pascal Wehrlein - Sauber - 1:23.000 - 59 laps (morning)
12. Fernando Alonso - McLaren - 1:23.041 - 46 laps
13. Marcus Ericsson - Sauber - 1:23.384 - 46 laps (afternoon)
14. Jolyon Palmer - Renault - 1:24.774 - 29 laps (afternoon)

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