March 1, 2015 / 7:03 PM / in 3 years

Bottas wraps up testing with Williams on top

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Formula One wrapped up pre-season testing on Sunday with Valtteri Bottas top of the timesheets for Williams while champions Mercedes looked forward with optimism to Australia.

Williams Formula One racing driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland drives the new Mercedes FW37 car during pre-season testing at the Jerez racetrack in southern Spain February 1, 2015. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

With the opening race in Melbourne now only two weeks away on March 15, teams carried out a mixture of quick laps and long runs at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Bottas, who could be the biggest rival to the Mercedes duo of double world champion Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, chalked up the quickest lap of one minute 23.063 seconds on super-soft tires.

“It was a really good day and a great way to finish the test,” said the Finn, whose car has the same engine as the Mercedes works team.

”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. We have made the most out of our time testing.”

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was second quickest and Ferrari-powered Sauber’s Brazilian rookie Felipe Nasr was third and did the most laps -- a hefty 159.

Rosberg, who will be aiming to wrest the title off his team mate this season, was only seventh fastest but did 130 laps and sounded confident.

“Today was a good day and, overall, that was a very interesting test here in Barcelona. We made some mechanical set up changes on the car which was very interesting to me,” said the German.

”I also did a long run at the end today on the soft tires which was okay. In Melbourne we will have the soft tire and it will be a challenge to manage them well, so we need to look at that. After this test, though, we can be happy.

“The team did a fantastic job. Thanks to everybody, who was involved in the development of the car. We are very optimistic.”

McLaren endured another difficult afternoon, with Britain’s Jenson Button completing just 30 laps, while Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado crashed his Lotus into the barriers after 36 laps.

“The lack of mileage means we won’t be as ready as we’d have liked,” McLaren’s racing director Eric Boullier said.

“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 McLaren-Honda MP4-30.”

Editing by Ed Osmond

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