“Very close to perfection”. That’s how Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel described his first day back in anger as Formula 1 2019 got under way with pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya…
The German clocked up an impressive 169 laps - more than two-and-a-half Grand Prix distances - as well as sealing the quickest time of the day – a 1m18.161s on the C3 (medium) tyres. That left him around four-tenths of a second quicker than anyone else.
Too much shouldn’t be read into headline laptimes at testing, given the programmes each team are running will be very different – but the speed and reliability Ferrari showed out-of-the-box on Monday was very strong, as duly noted by Vettel.
“We couldn’t have hoped for a better day,” he said. “I think it was unbelievable. The car was working really well, we had no issues slowing us down, we did the programme just the way we wanted and we were able to squeeze a little bit more out even."
2018 title rivals Hamilton and Vettel run nose-to-tail on track
“The first impressions yesterday [at Ferrari’s shakedown test] were good and strong, the same today. The car is working. I feel comfortable. I certainly got enough laps today, I’m going to sleep well tonight. The guys are very happy.
“It’s very early, it’s the first day, and it’s meaningless in a couple of weeks, but for now, huge compliments to everyone in the factory, how they have tackled the new regulations.
“What they put on track today is very close to perfection for the first day of driving – the amount of laps we did, how the team was handling the car. Obviously everything was more on the edge compared to last year’s car. No major dramas so from that point of view, it was very good.”
Vettel, who's only blot on the day was a minor spin early on, will hand over driving duties to Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc on Tuesday before returning to the wheel on Wednesday.
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Sebastian Vettel - New Ferrari 'working really well'