Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time on the penultimate day of Formula 1 pre-season testing, edging out Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton as times once again were slashed in Barcelona.
Vettel managed to dip under the previous benchmark set by Valtteri Bottas on Wednesday, recording a best time of 1:19.024 on the super-soft tire.
Although the lap was the fastest of pre-season so far and just six-tenths of a second off the record time in Barcelona, Vettel could have gone quicker still, having backed off in the final sector.
The result means that Ferrari has now led three days of pre-season testing, equal with Mercedes, as it continues to build on an impressive testing period.
Hamilton split running in the Mercedes W08 car with Bottas, the Finn finishing eighth overall. Hamilton was three-tenths of a second shy of Vettel’s time in second place.
Force India’s Esteban Ocon ended the day third-fastest, one second off Vettel, while Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat put in an impressive display to wind up fourth on the final timesheets. Kevin Magnussen finished fifth for Haas ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
McLaren had another mixed day as Stoffel Vandoorne suffered two on-track stoppages due to electrical issues, adding more misery to a difficult testing period. The Belgian ended the day seventh on the final timesheets.
Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson both conducted running for Sauber, finishing P9 and P11 respectively as Renault’s Jolyon Palmer split the pair. Palmer suffered an on-track stoppage at one point during the day. Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were 12th and 13th, with Nico Hulkenberg propping up the timesheets for Renault after failing to set a time.
Pre-season testing concludes in Barcelona on Friday with another eight hours of running.