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F1 testing: Mercedes and Ferrari set the pace in Spain

2017-03-03 08:02

PRE-SEASON TESTING: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton takes a curve during a F1 pre-season testing session at the Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, outside Barcelona, Spain. Image: AP / Francisco Seco

Spain - Mercedes and Ferrari set the pace in the first week of pre-season testing in F1.

Kimi Raikkonen was fastest with Ferrari on Thursday as the teams completed a four-day session outside Barcelona, while Valtteri Bottas ended with the quickest time of the week with Mercedes.

The two teams showed better pace and reliability from the start, indicating that they will likely be a step ahead when the season begins on March in Australia.

Pre-season testing

Another four-day test session at the Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya will be run later in February.

After testing wet tires on an artificially soaked track, drivers were able to switch to slicks and Raikkonen topped the timesheets with a lap of 1min20.872, almost a second faster than Max Verstappen of Red Bull.

Raikkonen said: "I didn't pay attention to what the other teams were doing, nor the lap times, because at this point, it means nothing. I've got the feeling that we learned some lessons from last year and, at the moment, we can't complain about how testing has gone so far."

Bottas, replacing retired champion Nico Rosberg, set a time of 1min19.705 seconds on Wednesday, the fastest since layout changes were made at the track. He was only eighth fastest on Thursday after Mercedes had to deal with a mechanical failure in the morning session.

The failure kept team mate Lewis Hamilton from running.

'Shame not to drive'

Hamilton wrote on Twitter: "Electrical fault kept us in the garage this morning, so I've decided with the team not to drive today as I wouldn't have learned much. Shame not to drive but it's been a great few days. The guys have done an awesome job. Can't wait to be back in the car next week!"

Romain Grosjean impressed with Haas, running a total of 118 laps, the most among all drivers on Thursday.

Grosjean said: "It's been a productive day for us. We managed to get some wet running, inter running, pit stop practice, dry running, and trying a few setup changes that we had thought about overnight. The car is getting better and better."

Felipe Massa couldn't get on the track after Williams discovered chassis damage caused by Lance Stroll's crash on Wednesday, and Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat managed nothing more than an installation lap because of a power-unit failure.

New rules to bring more excitement to the series gave cars more grip and downforce, making them significantly bigger and faster than in previous years. Teams expect times to drop even more in next week's sessions.

Tire supplier Pirelli soaked the track's surface overnight with the help of eight water tanks, allowing teams to test this season's wider tires on the wet. The watering trucks soaked the track again after the morning session to give drivers more time on the wet-weather tires.

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