BARCELONA (Reuters) – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel posted the fastest lap on the penultimate day of Formula One’s pre-season testing on Thursday as six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton hit engine trouble.
Vettel set a time of one minute 16.841 seconds at the Circuit de Catalunya on the softest C5 tyres, still some way off the best lap of 1:15.732 set by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas last week.
The German also managed 145 laps, a tally beaten only by Canadian Nicholas Latifi in the Williams (160).
“This was a good day in terms of the number of laps we managed to do, as well as for the fact that we got through the program we had set ourselves,” said Vettel.
“I don’t think today’s times mean much, because, out of the five days of testing we have done here so far, today’s track conditions were definitely the worst.
“I think we have done a good job, concentrating mainly on what we had to do, without thinking too much about lap times.”
Hamilton did only 14 laps in the afternoon, having been kept in the garage for an hour after lunch, and was last on the timesheets while Bottas, who did 47 in the morning, was seventh.
Mercedes said the car had suffered an oil pressure anomaly, which shut the engine down as a precautionary measure but meant the team’s running for the day was over as they investigated the problem.
Hamilton said the situation was “obviously not ideal” but the team had discovered some things they needed to work on.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was second fastest in 1:17.066 and with 139 laps covered.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had two spins, blaming the windy conditions and water on the white line into turn five after overnight rain, and was sixth fastest.
“So far this year the car is definitely an improvement, and it also has to be if you want to fight for the championship,” said the 22-year-old Dutchman.
“We just focus on ourselves, and then we will find out in Melbourne where we are.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond and Pritha Sarkar)