Vettel Quickest on Final Day of Testing as Hamilton Closes the Gap


Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheet on the final day of pre-season Formula 1 testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The Ferrari driver ended the day just 0.003s ahead of 2018 F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, as Mercedes at last showed some true pace.

Vettel’s final day benchmark arrived in the morning session. The German bolted on a set of C5 compound Pirelli tyres shortly before the lunch break and posted a time of 1:16.221.

Vettel’s day ended early, however. The German added 42 laps to his morning total of 68 but then stopped on track on the exit of Turn 2 bringing out the red flags.

Ferrari later reported that an “electrical issue” had caused the stoppage and that due to the nature of the problem Vettel would not return to the action.

His morning time continued to serve as the benchmark during the afternoon, but only just. After days spent on long stints run on tyres from the harder end of Pirelli’s compound spectrum Mercedes finally put in performance runs on the final day and Hamilton made them count.

Bottas had run for the world champion team in the morning and the Finn ended his pre-season work three tenths of a second off Vettel’s best time of testing.

In the afternoon Hamilton chipped away at his lap time and when he switched to the C4 tyres he jumped to third with a 1:16.628s effort. With a little over an hour left on the clock he took on the softest tyres in the range and pushed past Bottas’ time to set a lap of 1:16.224s, just three thousandths of a second behind Vettel.

Those looking to see whether Honda-powered Red Bull Racing could join the battle at the top of the order were left disappointed, however. The team did manage to get the RB15 damaged in Pierre Gasly heavy day three crash on track in the morning, but Max Verstappen was only able to complete 29 laps before a gearbox problem halted his running. Red Bull attempted to resolve the issue but in the mid-afternoon called a halt to testing. Verstappen ended the day in P11.

With Bottas third, fourth place on the final day went to Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg who set a C5 time of 1:16.843s late in the session. Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat took fifth place for Toro Rosso ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz.

Hulkenberg was separated from eighth-placed team-mate Daniel Ricciardo Haas’ Romain Grosjean Haas who set a best time of 1:17.076 on the C5 tyres. The lap put him 0.038s ahead of Ricciardo.

Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen finished ninth ahead of the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen and Verstappen. The order was completed by Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and Williams’ Robert Kubica.

2019 Formula 1 Pre-Season Test 2, Day 4
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:16.221s 110
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:16.224s +0.003 61
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:16.561s +0.340 71
4 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:16.843s +0.622 51
5 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:16.898s +0.677 131
6 Carlos Sainz McLaren 1:16.913s +0.692 134
7 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:17.076s +0.855 73
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:17.114s +0.893 52
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1:17.239s +1.018 132
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:17.565s +1.344 94
11 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:17.709s +1.488 29
12 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1:17.791s +1.570 104
13 Robert Kubica Williams 1:18.993s +2.772 90

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