Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Vettel lowers Ferrari’s best test time by over a second after spin

2020 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel took 1.2 seconds off Ferrari’s best time of pre-season testing so far after he and several other drivers had spins on Thursday morning.

Vettel’s SF1000 got away from him at the exit of turn five, which had already caught out several other drivers earlier in the session. The Ferrari dragged gravel onto the circuit as it rejoined, triggering the latest in a series of red flags, all of which were caused by driver error.

Valtteri Bottas went off at the same corner earlier on but was able to continue. Max Verstappen was not so lucky when his Red Bull snapped sideways on the way in to turn five, however, and came to a stop in the gravel, causing another session stoppage while his car was recovered.

Like Bottas, Verstappen appeared to be caught out by a damp patch off-line on the way into the corner. Overnight rain meant the session began in damp conditions and most drivers stuck to intermediate tyres for the first runs.

Antonio Giovinazzi was another driver to be caught out by the conditions. He backed his Alfa Romeo into a barrier, damaging the rear win on his C39, though he was able to recover to the pit lane.

Despite those disruptions half of the drivers were able to improve on their teams’ best times of testing to date on the penultimate morning of pre-season action. They included Lance Stroll, second fastest for Racing Point, Nicholas Latifi, an encouraging third for Williams, Lando Norris in fourth for McLaren and Kevin Magnussen’s Haas in eighth.

However the conditions and interruptions prevented anyone from covering a race distance.

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Pos.Car numberDriverTeamModelBest timeGapLaps
15Sebastian VettelFerrariSF10001’16.84148
218Lance StrollRacing PointRP201’17.1180.27730
36Nicholas LatifiWilliamsFW431’17.3130.47243
44Lando NorrisMcLarenMCL351’17.5730.73243
533Max VerstappenRed BullRB161’17.7380.89729
677Valtteri BottasMercedesW111’17.9851.14447
731Esteban OconRenaultRS201’18.0131.17235
820Kevin MagnussenHaasVF-201’18.2251.38431
999Antonio GiovinazziAlfa RomeoC391’19.6702.82916
1010Pierre GaslyAlphaTauriAT011’22.5665.72535

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2020 F1 season

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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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8 comments on “Vettel lowers Ferrari’s best test time by over a second after spin”

  1. Keith is like a bullet!

  2. Looking at the speed traps you can clearly see that Ferrari are sandbagging. Vettel’s best top speed at the end of the start/finish-straight was 307 or 308 kph, which is nearly 20 kph slower than it would be with the engine in quali-mode (Vettel had 329 kph last week, though might have been with a slipstream).
    The speed over the start/finish-line is also quite interesting, as Vettel doesn’t even appear in the top-6, which means he’s at least 8 kph slower than Stroll.
    His final sector time wasn’t that impressive either. He did a 26.0 yesterday, I think on the C3 and today he managed only a 26.5 with the C5. This could be done to more fuel.

    Ferrari are definitely not as slow as the laptimes suggest. How fast they are compared to Mercedes and Red Bull? We won’t see it here, but in Melbourne.

    1. My bet is they are just slightly behind Mercedes and on par with Red Bull. If this is the case, it will be all down to operational side of the team come Australia.

      1. @pironitheprovocateur
        In terms of race pace, I think you are right. Yesterday afternoon, when they did their long runs on the C2, Leclerc was about 0.2 slower than Bottas (at the start of the stint, towards the end they were quite even) and slightly quicker than Verstappen.
        Christian Horner told AmuS yesterday, they see themselves about 0.2 behind Mercedes.
        Ferrari’s quali pace might be stronger, putting them on par with Mercedes or even slightly ahead.
        I can’t wait for Melbourne!

        1. Ferrari claims to now have way more downforce (Iā€™m sure the others do too) so perhaps they are emphasizing higher speeds in slower sections and are less worried about top end speed for now. Always a compromise and of course they would be mindful of wanting to be competitive at all kinds of tracks and track sectors, not just be good at certain kinds of venues or certain kinds of sectors.

          1. Might be justifying why they are slower on the straights, nothing to do with not being able to confusing fuel flow sensors?

      2. The only solace might be the chassis being good. Apart from potential the current pace is abysmal. The car doesn’t turn.

    2. @srga91 it would be consistent with the indication that Ferrari do not seem to have been using DRS that often when on track, which would suggest a focus on race trim performance over that of qualifying.

      That said, one thing that some observers have commented on is that the SF1000 possibly does still have some of the weaknesses of the SF90, mainly with regards to the front of the car not being particularly responsive. There was an indication that both drivers were struggling with mid-corner understeer, with a tendency for the front end to start washing wide if they started pushing the limits of performance.

      There does seem to be a feeling that they are not as slow as the raw times might suggest, but at the same time a feeling that they probably are still trailing Mercedes and Red Bull by a little bit.

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