(Refiles to fix typo in sixth paragraph.)
By Alan Baldwin
BARCELONA, March 1 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.
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
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
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.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Larry King)