F1 Pre-Season Testing: Vettel fastest at mid-point on Day 1
As 2019 winter testing got underway at Barcelona, a glory lap from Sebastian Vettel in his new Ferrari SF90 stopped the clocks at 1m 18.161s, over a second quicker than his next fastest rival, the Racing Point of Sergio Perez.
Perez was himself ahead of the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, the Finn getting the nod from the Silver Arrows to drive the first morning of testing before quintuple champion Lewis Hamilton takes over this afternoon. Renault will have a similar arrangement to Mercedes, with Nico Hulkenberg driving this morning, while Daniel Ricciardo will take over after lunch for his first laps in anger in the Renault R.S.19.
Now installed at Alfa Romeo – who also used the first day of testing to launch their new livery – Vettel’s former team mate Kimi Raikkonen’s running began inauspiciously, meanwhile, with a spin into Barcelona’s Turn 5 gravel trap on his very first lap of the day bringing out the red flags after just five minutes.
The Finn wasn’t the only one having problems either, with Haas’ Romain Grosjean having a spin at Turn 3 before bringing out a second red flag when his VF-19 ground to a halt out on track. A fuel pressure issue was diagnosed as the problem, although the Frenchman at least revealed that his “first feeling in the car is very good.”
Others out on circuit at a sunny Barcelona included Carlos Sainz in his McLaren MCL34, Daniil Kvyat in his Toro Rosso STR14, and Max Verstappen, who had the first proper taste of the kind of performance he can expect from his Honda-powered Red Bull in 2019, ending up fifth overall.
One team who were notable for their absence, meanwhile, were Williams, who confirmed that their FW42 would almost certainly not be running on either of the first two days of winter testing.