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Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2017

Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes set the fastest lap of Formula One pre-season testing so far on Wednesday as he posted a time of one minute, 19.310 seconds at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain.

The Finn registered his flying lap on the supersoft tyres, while Williams’ Felipe Massa—who headed the timesheets on Tuesday—posted the second-fastest time of Wednesday’s morning session on the ultrasoft compound.

Third on the timesheets after the early action on the second day of the second week of winter testing in Catalonia was Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, while Fernando Alonso enjoyed a decent morning as he got 27 laps under his belt in the troublesome McLaren.

Here is how the standings looked after Wednesday’s morning session, per the FIA:


Morning Recap

Two-time world champion Alonso was the first out on track as he looked to put McLaren’s woes to bed following a dismal few days of testing in which they have been forced into multiple engine changes. 

The Spaniard was in and out of the garage for the duration of the session but, according to the team’s Twitter feed, he was able to run the desired plan:

Bottas posted the best time early on as he donned the ultrasofts to register a 1:21.229, a time eventually eclipsed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who returned a 1:20.516 on the soft compound.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg then pushed Bottas down to third as he posted a 1:21.213 on the supersofts.

Not to be outdone, Bottas followed his morning of lap accumulation by donning the supersofts to register his 1:19.310 and move back to the top of the pile, eclipsing his own best effort from last week’s testing, per Pirelli Motorsport:

It was then Massa’s turn to find a flying lap time as he registered a 1:19.420 on ultrasofts, not quite enough for him to eclipse former team-mate Bottas, but further encouragement from an excellent couple of days for Williams.

Given the Brazilian announced his retirement from the sport back in September, it is becoming clear he made the right decision not to go through with it.

Raikkonen spent much of Wednesday’s morning action in the garage, prompting speculation there may be something wrong with the Ferrari, but fears were allayed when he finally emerged on track, with the Italian team explaining his absence:

The 37-year-old former world champion immediately showed the impressive form the Ferrari has throughout testing, posting a 1:20.406 to place third.   

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