Daniil Kvyat replaced Kimi Raikkonen at the top of the Day Three timesheet in Barcelona, but the bigger news is Williams are finally up and running.
After not being present at the first two days of testing, the Williams FW42 arrived at the Circuit de Catalunya in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The screens went up around the Williams garage and the engine was fired up during the morning session.
And then, the moment we had all been waiting for finally came shortly after the lunch break with a media scrum forming in the pit lane.
— Planet F1 (@Planet_F1) February 20, 2019
British rookie George Russell was given the honours of taking the car for its first outing and, after an installation lap, he performed what was effectively a shakedown test in the afternoon.
Russell took it nice and steady, propping up the timesheet but with the more important figure of 23 laps on the board. Aerodynamic tests will begin on Thursday.
Deputy team principal, Claire Williams, said she was “embarrassed” that the team were starting so late, but refused to blame individuals, such as chief technical officer Paddy Lowe who has been the subject of intense media speculation.
Back at the top of the timesheet, a late surge from Toro Rosso’s Kvyat saw him knock Kimi Raikkonen off the P1 spot with a 1:17.704 set on the quickest tyre compound available – C5.
Raikkonen had previously set the quickest time we had seen so far in testing with a 1:17.762 posted up in the morning session, again on the C5 tyres.
Sebastian Vettel would fall further down the pecking order to P4, but the Ferrari driver was content enough to clock off a little early on day three with 134 laps on the board and a quickest time of 1:18.350 on C3 medium tyres.
Also with a late surge was Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault (1:18.164) as he strapped on the C4 tyres for a bit of a ‘glory run’. The time was good enough for a P3 spot.
Meanwhile, it was very much quiet business as usual for Mercedes, staying well away from creating any headlines at the top of the leaderboard and purely focused on racking up the miles.
Valtteri Bottas, P11, and Lewis Hamilton, P12, both completed race simulation runs and notched up 88 laps and 94 laps respectively.
💬 "We're learning a lot" – @ValtteriBottas
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) February 20, 2019
It was also a pretty quiet day for Red Bull as Max Verstappen returned to the RB15 with a best time of 1:18.787 as the team continued to learn more about their new Honda engine.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg stayed in the top six following his morning stint in the Renault, but there was trouble for Haas – Romain Grosjean and Pietro Fittipaldi P7 and P8 respectively – with the VF19 stopping three times on track throughout the day predominantly because of ongoing electrical problems.
Carlos Sainz recovered from a slow start and an early spin in the McLaren to finish P9 with 90 laps on the board.
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, P10, enjoyed a longer stint in his new car after managing just 20 laps on the first day of testing.
The final day of the first test gets underway on Thursday at 0900 local time.
Day three timesheet
1) Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:17.704, 137 laps C5
2) Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, 1:17.762, 138 laps C5
3) Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, 1:18.164, 80 laps C4
4) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:18.350, 134 laps C3
5) Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:18.787, 109 laps C3
6) Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:18.800, 63 laps C4
7) Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:19.060, 69 laps C3
8) Pietro Fittipaldi, Haas, 1:19.249, 48 laps C4
9) Carlos Sainz, McLaren, 1:19.354, 90 laps C3
10) Sergio Perez, Racing Point, 1:20.102, 67 laps C3
11) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:20.693, 88 laps C3
12) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:20.818, 94 laps C3
13) George Russell, Williams, 1:25.625, 23 laps C3
C1 = hardest tyres C5 = softest tyres