By Adam Tate, Associate Editor

Mercedes reclaimed the top time in pre-season testing from Ferrari today by becoming the first to crack the 1 minute 20 second barrier around Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

A morning run on the ultra soft tires for Valtteri Bottas netted an impressive 1:19.705 lap time. Enough to edge Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by two tenths of a second. Keeping with recent form the Ferrari ran a harder compound of tire than the Mercedes as Vettel did his run on softs, which indicates there is still plenty of pace to come from the Scuderia.

The time is significant because it eclipses the all time in season best lap of the circuit, which was previously a 1:19.995 by Rubens Barrichello during Q2 for the 2009 Spanish Grand Prix at the wheel of the all conquering Brawn BGP-001. The best testing time however belongs to Fernando Alonso’s Renault from a slick tire test in 2008 when he ran a 1:18.243, which shows just how much the grooved tires truly slowed the machines of a decade ago.

There is still plenty to come and Pirelli estimates that the pole position time when then teams return to Barcelona in May will be in the 1:17’s. Significantly faster than any F1 car has ever been.

Pos Driver Team Times Laps Tire
1 Bottas Mercedes 1:19.705 75 US
2 Vettel Ferrari 1:19.952 139 S
3 Ricciardo Red Bull 1:21.153 70 S
4 Palmer Renault 1:21.396 51 S
5 Hülkenberg Renault 1:21.791 42 S
6 Ericsson Sauber 1:21.824 126 SS
7 Hamilton Mercedes 1:22.090 95 S
8 Grosjean Haas 1:22.118 56 SS
9 Stroll Williams 1:22.351 98 S
10 Alonso McLaren 1:22.598 72 US
11 Sainz Toro Rosso 1:23.540 32 M
12 Celis Jr Force India 1:23.619 71 S
13 Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:23.952 31 M

 



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