Mercedes hints at tyre progress ahead of final F1 test day

Mercedes will be hoping the final day of this week’s Bahrain in-season test allows it to make further progress on its tyre issues, as the team hinted at a better understanding of what it needed to do after the first day.

Valtteri Bottas will join the team for Wednesday’s running, after Lewis Hamilton spent the day on Tuesday focusing on some new parts evaluation and tyre runs.

With Mercedes adamant that unlocking stronger pace in the race is key to it beating Ferrari, Hamilton had hinted at some promise after his first day of running

“Our focus was on advancing our understanding of the tyres and also the rear of the car so that we can improve our long runs – particularly during the race and on the supersoft compound,” said Hamilton after his test came to an end. “We came here with a specific goal, so it was positive to get on top of that with the team.”

World championship leader Sebastian Vettel will return to normal testing duties for Ferrari on Wednesday, having spent Tuesday working on Pirelli’s 2018 evaluation project.

The German knows that Ferrari’s challenge is slightly different from Mercedes, in that his team is on top of its race performance but needs to make good gains with its single-lap pace.

The team may well choose to concentrate on that because, with overtaking more difficult in 2017, not being able to control the race from the front is a disadvantage.

Pierre Gasly is taking over for Red Bull, with Daniel Ricciardo’s running on Tuesday having been cut short by an engine failure.

Force India will split running between Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez as it continues work on evaluation of new parts, while Kevin Magnussen will be tasked with further work on Haas’ brakes.

McLaren will also be hoping for a better day than Tuesday, when an engine change prompted by an ERS water leak cost it hours of running and left it behind in its test programme. Stoffel Vandoorne is taking over from Oliver Turvey.

Test line-up