Barcelona: Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was fastest in Formula One’s pre-season testing at a chilly Circuit de Catalunya on Tuesday while Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton took one for the team and “sacrificed” his scheduled stint.
Vettel, like Hamilton a four times champion, lapped with a best time of one minute 19.673 seconds on soft tires and also completed the most laps (98) despite flurries of snow later in the day.
The German’s fastest time was quicker than that posted by any team at the first Barcelona test of 2017 but he said Ferrari were focusing on reliability more than performance at this stage.
“From an operational point of view, everything went smoothly and I'd say the car is working. But today's conditions are not the ones in which you'd normally run an F1 car,” said Vettel.
Hamilton had been supposed to test in the afternoon but Mercedes changed the schedule to keep Finnish team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the car all day rather than wasting time with a handover.
The usual lunchtime break was cancelled.
“With the weather conditions being up and down, and the loss of track time we had yesterday, it made sense to keep Valtteri in the car this afternoon,” said the Briton in a team review of the day’s action.
“Having run in the morning, he was comfortable in the car already and we would have lost about an hour of running time with the driver switch,” added the champion.
“With no real understanding of whether the good weather was coming or not, I took the decision to sacrifice that time in order for the team to gain a better understanding of the car by going through the run plan.”