Vettel smashes lap record as Ferrari hints at true pace

From ESPN - March 8, 2018

MONTMELO, Spain -- Ferrari signalled its intent on the penultimate morning of pre-season testing by setting a new Circuit de Catalunya track record, nearly 0.9s clear of the previous record set by Daniel Ricciardo on Wednesday.

Sebastian Vettel was back behind the wheel of the Ferrari on Thursday and the four-time world champion was given the task of testing the three softest tyre compounds over short runs. Vettel typically alternated between quick laps and cool-down laps over five-laps, improving on his best lap each time out of the pits as he cycled through the super-soft compound, the ultra-soft and finally Pirelli's new hyper-soft.

Track temperatures were lower than Wednesday and with next to no wind the conditions lent themselves to a quick lap on Pirelli's softest rubber. Vettel took full advantage and his fastest lap was a 1:17.182 on the second of two hyper-soft runs before lunch. If that was not impressive enough, there was a hint of more to come as his fastest first and final sectors came on different laps to best overall time -- meaning his ultimate lap would be even quicker.

The lap time sets a new benchmark for rivals Mercedes and Red Bull to chase with just one and a half days remaining of the test.

Haas' Kevin Magnussen was also working through performance runs and set a best lap time of 1:18.360 on the super-soft tyres to go second fastest. It was not quite as impressive as the Ferrari, but considering he was using a tyre two steps harder than Vettel the American team will be encouraged by the time.

Nico Hulkenberg was third fastest after setting his best time earlier in the morning using the hyper-soft tyre. He was 0.315s slower than the Haas after completing a similar style of run alternating between quick laps and cool-down laps.


Continue reading at ESPN »