Sebastian Vettel kept Ferrari on top at the lunch break of the final day of 2019 pre-season testing, and with a new testing lap record to boot. But Mercedes finally posted what looks to be a more representative time, Valtteri Bottas setting a 1m 16.561s to trail Ferrari by around three-tenths of a second.
Charles Leclerc had put the Scuderia in front on yesterday after setting a 1m 16.231s before his SF90 stopped out on track with an exhaust issue just before the end of running. But Vettel, returning to the cockpit for the first time since his scary crash on Wednesday, managed to better his young team mate by one-hundredth of a second this morning.
Mercedes have seemingly refused to go after lap times so far in testing, opting instead to gather data on the performance of their new W10. But mid-morning on the final day, Bottas stuck some of the fastest C5 rubber on his car and easily trumped the previous fastest time we've seen from the team on other days – Bottas’ 1m 17.857s from last week.
Behind Vettel and Bottas, Daniil Kvyat continued to underline the performance potential in the Honda power unit by going third for Toro Rosso with a 1m 16.898s, the Russian heading his former team mate Carlos Sainz in the McLaren and the Haas of Romain Grosjean.
The first session of the day ended under red flags, meanwhile, with Kimi Raikkonen stopping out on track in his Alfa Romeo C38.