Barcelona, 1 March 2015: Formula One’s winter test programme came to a close in Barcelona today, with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas topping the timesheet ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Sauber’s Felipe Nasr.
Bottas’ best time came must the midway point of the morning session. After having claimed top spot with an outing on the soft compound Pirelli tyres, the Finn bolted on supersofts to record a lap of a lap of 1:23.063. Just before the lunch break Vettel then also took on the supersoft tyre to post his day’s best time of 1:23.469, four tenths of a second off the Finn’s pace.
Mercedes, who had run fastest on the middle two days of this final test using the soft tyre and who would have been expected to top the benchmark set by Bottas, today eschewed any kind of performance runs. Instead, Nico Rosberg focused on work with the hard and medium tyres – likely to be compounds used at the Curcuit de Catalunya for May’s Spanish Grand Prix – and the German worked steadily through the team’s programme for an eventual lap total of 148.
Felipe Nasr was third quickest for Sauber, with the Brazilian posting his quickest lap in the morning on supersoft tyres. As had become the pattern over the final test, Nasr switched to long runs in the afternoon and eventually racked up the day’s biggest distance, the Brazilian completing 159 tours of the Circuit de Catalunya.
Fourth place went to Max Verstappen. The teenager’s running was interrupted midway through the afternoon by an engine issue though his Toro Rosso mechanics managed to get him out again before the chequered flag and he posted his best time in the final moments of the session.
Fifth on the timesheet was Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, though his best time was set in the afternoon after a compromised morning programme led the team to run a compressed programme in the second half of the day.
Ricciardo’s day began positively enough with the Australian completing 10 laps but just after an hour into the session his RB11 ground to a halt at the end of the pit lane. After he had been wheeled back to the garage an ERS issue was diagnosed and any further morning running was off the agenda.
He returned to the track half an hour into the afternoon and soon after took on the soft tyre. His third run on the compound netted his best time of the day, a 1:24.638, which put 1.5s off Bottas supersoft time.
Behind Ricciardo was Force India’s Sergio Perez. The Silverstone-based team had another trouble-free run with the new VJM08, the Mexican driver getting through 130 laps for a best time of 1:25.113, which put him ahead of Rosberg.
McLaren’s troubled winter test programme ended with another tricky day. Jenson Button was back at the wheel but he only completed two laps in the morning as a sensor issue restricted the MP4-30 to the garage. The Briton took the track again in the afternoon and made it through 30 laps of the circuit.
The final place on the timesheet was occupied by Pastor Maldonado. The Lotus driver crashed out at Turn Four just after the start of the afternoon session and took no further part in running.
Barcelona Test – Day Four
1 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:23.063s 88
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:23.469s +0.406 129
3 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:24.023s +0.960 159
4 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:24.527s +1.464 85
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:24.638s +1.575 72
6 Sergio Perez Force India 1:25.113s +2.050 130
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:25.186s +2.123 148
8 Jenson Button McLaren 1:25.327s +2.264 30
9 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:28.272s +5.209 36