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Vettel quickest on first morning of testing

NEWS STORY
18/02/2019

Sebastian Vettel got his 2019 season off to the best possible start by topping the timesheets on the first morning of pre-season testing.

Not only was the German 1.7s quicker than his closest rival, Sergio Perez, the four-time champion, who had a minor spin at the final chicane early on, also completed the most laps (72).

With a clear statement of intent, Valtteri Bottas was waiting at the end of the pitlane for the greenlight signalling the start of the session, and by the time the teams broke off for luck the Finn was third quickest with 69 laps under his belt. This afternoon he hands over to teammate Lewis Hamilton.

It was a largely uneventful morning, though Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean both brought out the red flags.

The Finn spun off into the gravel at T5 just minutes into the session, while the Frenchman stopped on track with a fuel pressure issue.

Most of the running thus far has been on the C3 (soft) tyres, though a few drivers tried the harder C2 and at one stage Sergio Perez ran with an unmarked tyre clearly being used by Pirelli for development purposes.

Despite a slow start to the day Max Verstappen ended up with 52 laps completed, while Perez completed just 20 and Grosjean, following his fuel pressure issue, just 18.

Early days and absolutely no idea what fuel loads are being used, but at this stage the Ferrari looks strong, as do Mercedes, Racing Point, Red Bull and Alfa Romeo.

One frustrating factor was the amount of single lap runs a number of teams opted for, as if teasing the fans in the stands... and fellow competitors.

Sadly, just moments into the lunch break, Williams confirmed that it does not now expect to be on track until Wednesday.

The good news is that while it was anticipated the new regulations would slow the cars, this morning's best times were already faster than last year, and while there is still uncertainty as to fuel loads and so on, Vettel's best time this morning (1:18.161) compares favourably with the best overall time posted in pre-season testing last year, a 1:17.182, which was posted by Vettel on the penultimate day.

Check out our Monday morning gallery from the Barcelona test, here.

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