It’s not been the smoothest of pre-season’s for Scuderia Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel, but on the fifth day of testing the German seemed to find the sweet spot as he topped the timesheets and completed a full race weekend simulation with 675 kilometres of running in the SF1000.
With overnight rain the track was far from optimal when the lights went green for the morning session, Vettel waited in the garage for the first 20 minutes as the track dried out and rubber was laid down by his competitors.
The former champion completed an installation lap on intermediate tyres before waiting for a completely dry circuit.
During the morning session Vettel would run through a race weekend simulation of practice and qualifying on three different compounds of Pirelli tyres.
While the weather was far from ideal, as windy conditions caught a number of drivers out, including Vettel who spun into a gravel trap, bringing out a red flag.
Vettel set his fastest time of the day during a qualifying run simulation just before the lunch break, setting a time of 1:16.841, completing 48 laps as the session came to an end.
Race day for Ferrari (simulation)
Following the lunch break the team set about preparing the car as they would do on a race day, running through all procedures that they would before a Grand Prix.
Vettel would alternate between the C2 and C3 tyre compounds as he completed a 300-kilometre race distance without any issues.
With the race weekend simulation completed there was still work to be done as Vettel returned to the track to gather further data on the handling of the car.
As the day came to an end and Vettel pulled into the garage it marked a total of 402 laps which was 1,871 kilometres of running, the same distance as around six Grands Prix.
“This was a good day in terms of the number of laps we managed to do, as well as for the fact that we got through the programme we had set ourselves,” said Vettel.
“Having said that, I don’t think today’s times mean much, because, out of the five days of testing we have done here so far, today’s track conditions were definitely the worst.
“The overnight rain had washed away all the rubber put down on previous days and, on top of that, the wind got much stronger right from early morning, making it harder to drive. I think we have done a good job, concentrating mainly on what we had to do, without thinking too much about lap times.
“We won’t really get a clear picture until Melbourne, but maybe not even there, given that the track is pretty unique. Overall, I’m pleased with the way testing went.”
The final day of testing will see Charles Leclerc return to the wheel of the SF1000 as the team run through their final programme which will most likely see a repeat of the schedule from today as the Monegasque driver completes his race weekend simulation.