Brought to you by TJ13 contributor Oddball
Day three and another cold start (5.6°c air 9.4°c track) for the teams.
The new tyres from pirrelli have really been subjected to some pretty low temperatures and it has been a surprise to myself that they haven’t given the teams more problems.
The official team runnings today are as follow:-
- Mercedes: Bottas
- Red Bull: Verstappen
- Ferrari: Vettel
- Force India: Celis Jr
- Williams: Massa(Stroll)
- McLaren: Alonso
- Toro Rosso: Kvyat
- Haas: Grosjean
- Renault: Palmer
- Sauber: Ericsson
It will be interesting to see what tyres the teams will opt to run in this session as the times have been pretty close on each compound.
I would have expected some graining from the new boots,but as we have seen from the long runs of the Ferrari,the mediums have been just as good as on the soft shod Mercedes.
The previous two day have also shown just how reliable these power units have become(sorry Honda,that’s not a dig)
Many teams have put in several race distances, I know that the teams haven’t exactly turned the dial to 10 yet but it’s still been a damn impressive showing.
Another good showing was the welcome return of Ross (the boss) Brawn.
Bruznic wrote a great piece on the suspension of these new cars ( I urge you to read this little known snippet) so I do wonder if our new Sub commander is taking in the sights.
So,without further delay…green flag time!!! And the words of Murray echoed around the room ‘go..Go…go’
The Sauber,Torro Rosso and Mercedes were the first out of the box. Bottas looked like a man on a mission,with an impressive rack of numbers already logged at the office, today will be telling as the teams begin to give the drivers more speed. Let’s hope that all the gym work on the neck will have paid off.
There was a late substitution at the Williams team as Massa was replaced with Lance Stoll. There was a mad rush yesterday as Williams had to call for international rescue.
The team had only brought limited spares(front wing) and yesterdays problems had become today’s frantic rush but as the flag fell,the team wasn’t quite ready.
The fans had a treat as the track came alive again.
Even the McLaren of Alonso made its wheels turn on track, only for an installation marker, but the Spanish samurai managed to drive the Mcarronda back into the garage under its own power..Small steps guys and gals..however,I did wonder if they had substituted a civic hybrid engine into the chassis.
Well, half an hour in and other than the Williams,all the teams had put in laps. They were running a good 6-10 seconds off yesterdays ultimate pace but the track was still very chilled but even with a 70℅ chance of rain this should soon start to rise.
The first red flag of the day came via way of a Renault.
Palmer managed to ding and strand the Renault in the kitty litter at turn 3 and I am sure many of the backroom personnel threw their stress toys out of the windows as another lost hour for the data collectors.
Luckily we only lost around 20min of running and the green flag was quick to be dropped.
The torro rosso was the first to drop in a 1:26.7
The Russian driver beginning to regain some of his lost mojo from last year but that time was quickly eclipsed with Bottas(the flying fin)setting a very respectful 1m 22.816s on super soft tyres.
The track was still only at 14.5°c and it looked like this was a very early bench mark for the team.
Like many in the pits,the aim of today was aero work rather than engine tweeks so the cooler air will provide a better medium with which to weave their magic.
The Ferrari of Vettel began to step up the pace and posted a 1m 22.222s as we approach the end of the first hour.
Alonso finally beginning to find his form and with an initial warm up lap he manages to get the donkey upto P3 with a time of 1:23.956 however this was quickly eclipsed with a 1:23.761 from the freshly rebuilt Williams of Stroll. The youngsters showing the old gaurd just what they can do.
It seems that Stroll has some raw speed just like Verstapen but only time will tell if this can be transferred into a full heated race.
The track temperature was beginning to climb and so the pace began to improve.
The most showing part was that most of the runners were dipping their toes into a sub 1:23 while the Ferrari and Mercedes pair clicked their heels and disappeared into the horizon.
As the times dropped,so did my jaw when Bottas put in a 1:20 on super sorts. This was a full 2 seconds off the Ferrari, he then sent a full broadside into the pits with a 1:19.838 the fastest time yet of the week.
The sound of tools being dropped echoed around the paddock.
So a quick breakdown of times as of 11.00am
1Bottas Mercedes. 1m19.838s
2Vettel Ferrari 1m21.609s
3Ericsson Sauber 1m21.824s
4Stroll Williams 1m22.351s
5Ricciardo Red Bull. 1m22.382s
6Palmer Renault. 1m23.387s
7Celis Force India. 1m23.781s
8Alonso McLaren. 1m23.834s
9Kvyat Toro Rosso. 1m24.190s
10Grosjean Haas. 1m25.898s
Hamilton Mercedes. No time
SainzToro Rosso. No time
Hulkenberg Renault No time
The time from Bottas is creeping up to the fabled 5secs quicker than last year.
I still cannot tell if the increased aero is effecting the following cars. The drivers are giving each other space because of the multitude of sensors now fitted to the machines.
The guru’s need clean data to send back to base so I should imagine that instructions have been tattooed on the driver’s eyelids.
Sitting back and taking in the last hour before lunch I start to ask some questions.
Have Mercedes shown their true hand? And can these times really be a true representation of the other teams pace?
If we went into a race tomorrow with these times then I am sorry fans…All these rule changes haven’t changed a thing.
The Mercedes would still be a crashed UFO in a prehistoric world.The Ferrari is getting close having had a sneaky peek under the hood of the crashed space craft.
Williams have a hyper drive engine but are just lacking in development funds,this is the same for force India.
Red bull have all the ingredients but again look to be let down with a weak power system
Renault..Nice try but again..Weak heart
TorroRosso..A spitfire in a jet age,a great dog fighter but just not got the oomph
McLaren.,..Well,I was brought up correctly. If you can’t say anything nice then stay silent.
With all that said..20 mins to go and the Renault sounded poorly.
Every time Palmer was asking for power it seemed to loose its cylinders.
I hope that it’s just a system reboot rather than a oily piece beginning to fail.
Lunch break final times and tyres set.
1Bottas Mercedes. 1m19.705s. Ultra soft
2Ricciardo Red Bull. 1m21.153s. Soft
3Palmer Renault. 1m21.396s. soft
4Vettel Ferrari. 1m21.609s. medium
5Ericsson Sauber. 1m21.824s. super soft
6Stroll Williams. 1m22.351s. soft
7Celis Force India. 1m23.781s. soft
8Alonso McLaren. 1m23.834s. soft
9Kvyat Toro Rosso. 1m23.952s. medium
10Grosjean Haas. 1m25.701s medium