BARCELONA: Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was fastest in Formula One’s pre-season testing at a chilly Circuit de Catalunya yesterday while Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton took one for the team and “sacrificed” his scheduled stint.
Vettel, like Hamilton a four times champion, lapped with a best time of one minute 19.673 seconds on soft tyres and also completed the most laps (98) despite flurries of snow later in the day.
The German’s fastest time was quicker than that posted by any team at the first Barcelona test of 2017 but he said Ferrari were focusing on reliability more than performance at this stage.
“From an operational point of view, everything went smoothly and I’d say the car is working. But today’s conditions are not the ones in which you’d normally run an F1 car,” said Vettel.
Hamilton had been supposed to test in the afternoon but Mercedes changed the schedule to keep Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas in the car all day rather than wasting time with a handover.
Bottas was second overall, 0.303 slower than Vettel, with his best time also set on softs.
McLaren had a better morning than on Monday, when Fernando Alonso’s car lost a wheel and crashed into the gravel, with Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne third fastest but with only 37 laps to his name.
The forecast for today is wet and teams have been considering adding an extra day to testing to compensate for the missed track time.