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Mercedes Signs Valtteri Bottas For Another Season

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• An FIA accredited F1 journalist since 2011

BARCELONA, Spain -- Valtteri Bottas put Mercedes at the top of the timesheets on the second morning of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday.

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The Mercedes race driver set the fastest time since Saturday's qualifying session for the Spanish Grand Prix, clocking a 1:16.904 on the super-soft compound tyre. The lap was 0.7s slower than the time Bottas set to secure second on Sunday's grid but was 0.068s faster than the next quickest driver on Wednesday morning, Antonio Giovinazzi in the Ferrari.

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Valtteri Bottas set the quickest time in Wednesday morning's test. Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Giovinazzi, who drove for Sauber on Tuesday and is Ferrari's third driver, used the hyper-soft tyre to set a 1:16.972 just before the lunch break. The pink-striped tyre is the softest in Pirelli's range and will make its race debut at the Monaco Grand Prix next week.

Kevin Magnussen was third fastest in the Haas ahead of Lando Norris in the McLaren. Norris, who is under contract at McLaren and currently leading the F2 championship, completed a Pirelli test in a sister McLaren on Tuesday, but on Wednesday was doing testing work aimed solely at developing the MCL33. Stoffel Vandoorne took over the Pirelli test car to continue to evaluate development tyres for 2019 and finished the morning further down the order in ninth.

Jack Aitken made his F1 debut in the Renault and completed 62 laps over the course of the morning. Aitken is a Renault development driver and his test on Wednesday came three days after he secured his first F2 sprint race win of the season on Sunday.

Charles Leclerc was back behind the wheel of his Sauber on Wednesday morning and clocked the sixth fastest time ahead of Robert Kubica in the Williams. After setting his sights on an F1 comeback last year, Kubica took on a Williams test role for 2018 and prior to Wednesday's test took part in pre-season testing and first practice at the Spanish Grand Prix. His morning at the wheel of the FW41 came to a close with a healthy 59 laps on the board as the team looked to better understand the issues it has faced with its car so far this year.

GP3 race winner Nikita Mazepin was eighth fastest on what was his seventh appearance as a test driver for Force India. The Russian has completed a series of tests with the team stretching back to July 2016 and added another 35 laps of F1 experience to his CV on Wednesday morning.

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Source : http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/23518870/valtteri-bottas-tops-second-morning-season-test

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