Red Bull may want to head back to the garage and see if they can find some extra horsepower, as not long after Daniel Ricciardo posted the best pace of the pre-season testing, Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel turned a hot lap that proved to be the fastest time of the preliminaries ahead of the Australian Grand Prix later this month.
Vettel clocked a lap time of under 78 seconds, the first ever since the Circuit Catalunya was lengthened in 2007.
Ricciardo had established a new lap record just the day earlier, but Vettel came along the following day and lowered that time by almost nine tenths of a second, which is akin to Winx’s seven-length win in the recent Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes.
After the hot testing, Vettel told Sky Sports, “We’ve made good progress in understanding the car,” said Vettel. “For now, the important thing is that we know our car is working in the way we want and the way we expect.”
Perhaps the bigger surprise than Vettel eclipsing Ricciardo, however, where the disappointing testing results of Mercedes and drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. All teams ran over 100 laps of testing, so for Hamilton and Bottas to conclude in eight and ninth positon is more than a mere anomaly.
Hamilton was unconcerned, saying, “But l am enjoying driving the car. It is an improvement. Last year’s car was great but this car feels better.”
He was also unfazed by Ferrari’s performance, saying, “I hope it is a good time because it means they are strong and we have a race on our hands. I can’t wait for the first race to see where we all come out. We want people to be on the edge of their seats.”
Hamilton is typically dismissive of results achieved during testing; that is public knowledge. When the green drops for the first time on the real thing in Melbourne, the German squad will be equal to the test.