Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Ferrari “very close to perfection” from day one – Vettel

2019 F1 season

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A delighted Sebastian Vettel described his new Ferrari SF90 as “very close to perfection” after conclusively leading the first day of testing for the 2019 F1 season.

“We couldn’t have hoped for a better day,” Vettel told RaceFans and other media at the Circuit de Catalunya. “I think it was unbelievable.”

Vettel covered 169 laps – the most of any driver – and led the times with a best lap which was almost a second quicker than the next driver on the same tyre.

“The car was working really well, we had no issues slowing us down,” said Vettel. “We actually completed the program just the way we wanted. And we’re able to squeeze a little bit more out even.”

Vettel had already driven the car once in a filming event yesterday at the track. “The first impressions yesterday already were very good and strong and the same today.

“So it seems that the car is working. I feel comfortable. Obviously I’m still a bit rusty because I haven’t driven for a couple of months. But [it’s] getting better, I certainly got enough laps today, I’ll sleep well tonight. The car’s working well, I’m very happy it’s doing what I want. So I’m very pleased at the moment.”

However Vettel stressed he was keen not to get carried away with his first impressions.

“Obviously it’s very early, the first day and it’s meaningless in a couple of weeks. But for now I think huge compliments to everyone back in the factory. How they tackled the the new rules and regulations and what they put on track today is very close to perfection in the first day of driving.

“The amount of laps that we did how the team was handling the car and obviously everything is more on the edge compared to last year car and tight and so on, what you’d imagine but as I said no no major dramas. So from that point of view we were very, very well prepared.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 35 comments on “Ferrari “very close to perfection” from day one – Vettel”

    1. Is it better at recovering from spins?

      1. @rethla We shall wait and see.

    2. Spin for the Tifosi more than anything.

      Ferrari seem to do this every year in testing, set fast times, throw in loads of laps and then praise the hell out of the car.

      Fact is, we don’t know what fuel loads he was running with, the overall setup and what any of the other teams were running with. The other teams too were just as likely to be focused on more important things like checking everything was good with regards to handling, fuel efficency, ERS deployment etc rather than throw in a few fast lap times to whip up a few headlines (I’ve already seen one article claiming Vettel and Ferrari ‘Dominated’ the opposition’)

      As previous years have shown, all the boasting of testing doesn’t carry through to the rest of the season to anywhere near the same degree. The car can be the best, but it still want win championships unless the driver and team are up to it and don’t make mistakes.

      1. One things is sure. Regardless of the performance he’s happy with how the car behaves on track and the reliability is ok, and that’s counts a lot

        1. Horner was also happy today, with the 128 laps that Max was able to complete today, without any major hiccups.

          1. So everyone is free to express his good feelings and optimism about today testing. It doesn’t mean that they are going to dominate

      2. Whatever the media choose to write on their headlines, it doesn’t mean that Ferrari were doing less important things than other teams, or that they were trying to “throw in a few fast lap times to whip up a few headlines ” or “boasting”.

    3. Very positive for number of laps, no dramas, time not so important, its nice and better than a negative though. Ferrari had the best car last year on balance, they need a gap over Merc though because if its tight my opinion is Hamilton is just better than Vettel and more than makes up a small gap.

    4. People can’t help but throw their bitter herbs into the broth at the first opportunity. Sad.

      The lap time was nice, of course, but not ultimately important on the first day of testing. The number of laps run and completion of the program also very satisfying. But what I noticed watching that car bang in lap after lap was the very sharp turn in and rear end stability through high speed corners. That car looks like it’s on rails. Don’t recall seeing any lockups, no evidence of understeer through the slow corners, and no squirm from the rear end on acceleration. The SF90 looks like a joyful car to drive. It had the best poise and balance of any car on track today. I’m excited to see Leclerc in the car tomorrow, if he is able to be as smooth as Vettel was today it looks like Ferrari have started off very well this year.

      Encouragingly, McLaren seemed to be pretty good on balance as well and Alfa looks to be pointed in the the right direction, though the rear end needs some high speed corner stability and the front end had some understeer to iron out. Red Bull looked quick, but had a lot of wiggle mid corner, and struggled a bit with low speed corner turn in. It was hard to tell with Mercedes, they seemed to be on quite a different program to everyone else. It looked twitchy on acceleration and had a bit of rear end wiggle on hard braking.

      Overall, a solid start for almost every team on the grid except Williams, and thinking about them just makes me sad.

      1. Thanks for the really insightful comments, with objective points about car behaviour, this is what I was looking for as the test is not broadcasted in my country! Very good comment!

      2. Excellent feedback, @lunaslide. Very much appreciated!

        1. @mmertens @shimks Thanks. I just want to say, I am no sort of expert on F1. Just an overly fascinated fan piloting a couch who can’t get himself to bed at a reasonable hour because I’m watching F1 testing in the middle of the night. Aside from my own driving experience on track in my M3, reading “Speed Secrets” books from Ross Bentley, and watching far too many analysis videos and articles here and elsewhere, I have no special insights. This is just the type of stuff that I look for when I watch F1. :)

          1. @lunaslide @mmertens I bit the bullet and bought a year’s subscription to F1 TV yesterday and I’m so glad I did! I’m here at work listening all day to the testing in the background. I am surprised at the strongly involved of Sky Sports which is a massive bonus for me – I had no idea!

            1. @shimks So far it’s been pretty good. I was doing the same yesterday working remotely, and now I’m staying up too late again. I’ll be even happier with it when the AppleTV app comes out, but for the moment using Airplay to the TV is working ok.

    5. Looking at the F1 video the colour of the car has a funny tinge. Doesn’t look red.

      1. It’s a new form of McLaren orange!!

      2. It’s not far off from the 312T, which wasn’t particularly pretty, but wasn’t such a bad color. I’m curious to see if they darken it up over the season after seeing it out in sunlight. Buxton made a good comment which is that their wheels should be gold on that car. I think that contrast would make the car look a little more red.

    6. Now let’s see how the car is when on the hunt for Mercedes.

      1. Wrong question; Daimler will be the one hunting and only managing P5-P6 this year…

        1. But perhaps the original question was more intelligent than your response… ;-)

        2. I wouldn’t put a single penny on that bet, it’s nothing more than the wishful thinking of a SF fan. To count Mercedes out this early in testing is silly. To count them out at any point until it is mathematically out of reach for them is silly.

          It is interesting that Hamilton was gathering aero data behind Kvyat today. He clearly wasn’t trying to pass but stay in his wake for awhile, which seemed to confuse Dany at first. This was one of their weak spots at the start of last season, whereas the Ferrari seemed to have no trouble following close without destroying its tires. With Mercedes’ level of diligence about getting on top of weaknesses like that, it makes sense they would want to start looking at it as soon as possible with the new aero rules.

        3. More like p5 and p10 then

          1. Mercedes has Hamilton. This is a challenge for both Ferrari and RBR. Maybe Ferrari has a faster car but they lack a faster driver. RBR has a faster driver but we don’t know if the PU is fast enough.

    7. The question is not how good it is now, but how good it will be after mid-season.

      1. Good enough for a one-point lead after the final race is good enough for the championship!

    8. How did the Ferrari treat its tyres today? I think back to last year, where this track was probably Ferrari’s bogey track on the race weekend.

      1. @phylyp It was a bit difficult to tell because it was hard to tell when they changed them, but Seb did several very long stints and they never looked ragged or unevenly worn to me. Tough to maintain my focus on that over 8 hours though. :)

        1. @lunaslide – many thanks for that, very good to hear. As a Seb fan, these last two years have been hard, and I’m still hoping for a good show before he quits the sport.

          So you’re at the circuit itself? How does it feel sitting through all 8 hours?

          1. @phylyp Haha, no I wish mate. I’m in the US, just watching F1 TV app which is about as good as a normal Friday practice coverage. I just gravitate to watching those things when they come into the pits and such. They’ve been showing the Mercedes a lot more when it pits than the Ferrari though, which is why I can’t keep nearly as good track of their tires.

            1. Nice, enjoy yourself! @lunaslide

    9. I find it almost surreal how much goodwill Vettel seems to have lost amongst fans and pundits alike because of his performances in the second half of last season. Just goes to show how in the cut throat world of F1 you cannot, even as a four time champion, rest on your laurels – with people always ready with “he had the best car during his good run” comments ready to fly. I do think Ferrari internally know what he brings to the team in terms of work ethic and team building and that barring an extraordinary showing from Leclerc, he is still their best shot at a WDC since 2007. Time to drown out the noise, put his head down and try and beat Hamilton in a straight fight. That should elevate him, finally, to a status I believe he deserves in the history books.

      1. @thedoctor03 Well said. It’s really his mental game that let Vettel down last year, very much in the same way that it did for Max in the first 5 races. He just wanted it too much, tried to force it at the wrong moments, and made mistakes as a result. A couple times, it was team execution that bit him also, but mostly himself. I think the pressure that team puts on itself, and that the tifosi and Italian media puts on it, is insanely counterproductive.

        Vettel said some things today that give me hope. That the team is having fun again, that he is having fun. That’s striking, because if you’re not able to have fun driving one of the most exciting cars in the world, or really challenging yourself with the engineering and execution require to reach that level, I can see the anxiety and expectation just becoming crippling. I mean no slight to Marchionne, but his style of motivation seemed deeply unhealthy for the team. Maybe things are shifting in the right direction for the internal team dynamic.

        Ultimately, he deserves it when he can achieve it and not before. But a lot of people seem to have forgotten the guy who would calmly sit in his garage at Red Bull until the last few minutes of qualifying, go out and just school everyone with his pole laps (very much like Lewis has done the last few years). Both of them are immensely talented, and it’s hard to choose between them for talent and skill. But Hamilton has developed a sense of emotional center that Vettel still lacks at critical moments and it made all the difference last season. Let’s hope he has worked on that over the winter, because the best racing is when it’s a contest of excellence in every aspect of the teams’ execution.

        1. @lunaslide completely agree. I think we just want to see a close battle between these two champions. I don’t remember a battle so well fought since Hakkinen v Schumacher. Although I do hope when the tables are turned that Lewis is as gracious as Sebastian has been for the last two years. I remember Lewis and Alonso both toeing the “he had the fastest car” lines many a times previously but I have never heard Sebastian say it ever in the past 4 years. Cannot wait for the lights to go out in melbourne.

    10. Can’t recall any pre season tests in the past where Ferrari wasn’t fastest and full of confidence. Same for RedBull, the confidence part that is. Both teams tend to over promise and then under deliver (good/necessity for resp. tifosi and sponsors). Let’s see whether 2019 brings a change to that. So far no reason to believe anything has shifted in the order up front. I hope the midfield will deliver one or two surprises. Haas, Alfa Romeo or Toro Rosso maybe?

      1. Agree. It happens each and every year. But it’s testing and they are running the car undercertain conditions that they may not be subjected to on a race weekend.

        All we can garner from testing is pace relative to previous years and even then at a stretch. Beyond that, we can ger an idea of how cars are handling, drivers confidence and reliability.

        The REAL test is in Austrailia.

    Comments are closed.