Finish driver Valtteri Bottas was fastest for Williams on the final day of pre-season testing in Barcelona as McLaren’s reliability problems continued.
Bottas bettered teammate Felipe Massa’s time from Saturday on the supersoft tyres, but was still someway off Mercedes’ best on the slower soft tyres in Barcelona in 1min 23.063sec.
Nico Rosberg’s time of 1min 22.792sec from Friday remained the benchmark across eight days of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya with the first Grand Prix of the season in Melbourne now just two weeks away.
“It was a really good day and a great way to finish the test,” said Bottas, who finished fourth in last season’s drivers’ championship.
“One of the main points we have learnt is that the FW37 is very reliable. The car we are taking to Melbourne is very competitive and should make for an interesting start to the season.”
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was second quickest when also running on the supersoft compound with Brazilian Felipe Nasr in third.
Rosberg concentrated on mileage over speed for Mercedes as he completed a mammoth 148 laps in only the seventh fastest time.
“Today was a good day and, overall, that was a very interesting test here in Barcelona,” said the German.
“After this test we can be happy. We are very optimistic. Now, I look forward to flying to Australia and getting back to racing.”
By contrast, McLaren’s inability to put their MP4-30 through its paces ahead of the opening Grand Prix of the season in Melbourne in two weeks’ time continued.
Jenson Button could only muster 30 laps and was also way off the pace set by the leaders despite running on the soft tyres — he was over two seconds behind Bottas.
“Looking back at the last four weeks, our winter test programme has been difficult,” said McLaren’s racing director Eric Boullier.
“Even if it’s likely to be a difficult start to the season, we know we can develop hard and fast, and that we’ll surely unlock the huge potential that lies within the car.”
Pastor Maldonado suffered a heavy crash early in the afternoon session to end Lotus’ day early, but the Venezuelan was able to walk away unhurt.
Results from day four of the third pre-season test in Barcelona:
1. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Williams) 1:23.063 (89 laps)
2. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari) 1:23.469 (129 laps)
3. Felipe Nasr (BRA/Sauber) 1:24.023 (159 laps)
4. Max Verstappen (NED/Toro Rosso) 1:24.527 (85 laps)
5. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull) 1:24.638 (72 laps)
6. Sergio Perez (MEX/Force India) 1:25.123 (130 laps)
7. Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes) 1:25.186 (148 laps)
8. Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren) 1:25.327 (30 laps)
9. Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Lotus) 1:28.272 (36 laps)
– Agence France-Presse