Formula 1

Vettel pips Hamilton to end F1 testing quickest but suffers reliability woes

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Sebastian Vettel - Formula 1 - 2019 Winter Testing
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

An electrical issue put an end to Sebastian Vettel and Scuderia Ferrari‘s 2019 Formula 1 winter testing programme, but the German finished Friday fastest at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

With the majority of the field setting their fastest lap on the C5 tyres, Vettel’s morning best of a 1 minute 16.221 seconds was not to be beaten in the afternoon.

Hamilton came closest for Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport in the final hour of the day, but could only get within 0.003 seconds of Vettel’s benchmark.

The Brit’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas had been leading the standings until the late part of the morning, when Vettel recorded the fastest time throughout the eight-day test.

Vettel had been languishing in the midfield on the mid-range C3 tyres for much of the morning, before a late burst of runs on the softest tyre moved him up the order and, eventually, top spot – 0.010s faster than team-mate Charles Leclerc‘s previous 2019 testing record, set on Thursday.

Vettel prompted a red flag period when he stopped at Turn 3 midway through the afternoon session because of an electrical problem, leaving Ferrari unable to run for the rest of the day.

Nico Hülkenberg ended the test a promising fourth for the Renault F1 Team, recording 51 laps in the afternoon, with a best time of a 1:16.843, leaving the German 0.271s quicker than team-mate and morning runner Daniel Ricciardo.

Daniil Kvyat narrowly trailed Hülkenberg for Scuderia Toro Rosso and had ended the morning session in third position, before falling to fifth over course of his longer runs in the second half of the day.

The McLaren F1 Team and Carlos Sainz Jr. clocked up the most laps of anyone on Friday with 134, managing a best time six-tenths away from Vettel’s ultimate pace.

Having set the fastest time on Wednesday, Sainz Jr. was the man to beat for a good part of the early running before Vettel and Bottas set their fast times.

Romain Grosjean managed some good mileage for the Haas F1 Team, after exhaust issues on Thursday had impacted its running, to end the day seventh fastest before handing over to Kevin Magnussen at lunch.

Ricciardo also used the C5 tyres for fast runs in the morning and was the last man to get within one second of Vettel’s time, but could not break into the 1m 16s barrier.

Kimi Räikkönen hit problems in an otherwise quiet day for the Finn, stopping before Turn 3 eight minutes before the end of the morning session.

Alfa Romeo Racing managed to resolve the problem and allow Räikkönen to complete a very respectable total of 132 laps.

Behind him, Haas’s Magnussen then put an effective end to the day’s running by grinding to a stop on the exit of Turn 4 with a currently undefined issue in the final 15 minutes of play.

Previous to that, the Dane’s best time on C5 tyres was half-a-second shy of Grosjean and 1.3s away from Vettel and Hamilton.

Red Bull Racing was still feeling the negative effects of Pierre Gasly‘s Thursday crash, with Max Verstappen unable to take to the track for the first 30 minutes and running an older bargeboard assembly.

To compound the misery, Verstappen’s running was heavily hampered by gearbox issues and left the Dutchman consigned to completing just 29 laps and eleventh place on C3 tyres.

Sergio Pérez and Robert Kubica rounded out the standings for the Racing Point F1 Team and Williams Racing respectively, Kubica almost 3s off the pace.

The Pole did partake in some running on one of Pirelli Motorsport‘s development tyres and managed 90 laps through the day.

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