Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes AMG Petronas were both busy and fast on the second day of Formula 1’s first 2017 in-season test at Bahrain.
The Bahrain Grand Prix polesitter ran nearly three full race distances on Wednesday, completing a staggering 143 laps (race distance is 57 laps) with a best time of 1:31.280 at the Bahrain International Circuit. Lewis Hamilton led Tuesday’s running with a 1:31.358 lap, so Bottas’ time ended as fastest at the test.
Bottas wasn’t the only driver to top 100 laps on the day. Gary Paffett, the longtime McLaren test driver who ran the Mercedes-powered Williams today, ran 126 laps himself.
Fortunately Paffett’s old team, McLaren, had a needed long day of running itself. Stoffel Vandoorne got in 81 laps in the Honda-powered MCL32 chassis, which was huge for him after a pair of power unit issues on the Grand Prix weekend itself, and actually ended fourth fastest with a best time of 1:32.108.
Bahrain race winner Sebastian Vettel (1:31.574, Ferrari) and Carlos Sainz Jr. (1:31.884, Toro Rosso) were second and third in-between Bottas and Vandoorne, having completed 64 and 68 laps respectively.
Besides Paffett, the only other test drivers that ran were Pierre Gasly at Red Bull and Sergey Sirotkin at Renault. Toro Rosso ran both Sainz and Daniil Kvyat today while Sahara Force India ran both Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, with both teams having run young drivers on Tuesday (Sean Gelael at Toro Rosso, Alfonso Celis Jr. at Force India).
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Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.