Vettel lowers Ricciardo's unofficial record at F1 testing

Vettel lowers Ricciardo's unofficial record at F1 testing”

Daniel Ricciardo lapped the Barcelona circuit faster than any F1 driver before but expects it's only a matter of time until Mercedes does better.

Esteban Ocon briefly raised eyebrows in his Force India as he beat Hamilton on soft tyres with a 1:19.067-which was the fastest time set during the entirety of winter testing at that point-but his time was soon scratched for breaching track limits.

Ferrari had tasked Vettel with testing Pirelli's three softest tyre compounds over a series of five-lap runs ahead of lunch, and a combination of warm track temperatures, low winds and an increasingly grippy track surface allowed him to extract the impressive time from the new hyper-soft tyre.

Vettel pushed his Ferrari to a lap of 1 minute, 17.182 seconds.

"The first race is in Australia on March 25".

When asked if anything could be made of his benchmark lap, he said: "No, it's just a time". McLaren had another miserable day, with more mechanical issues limiting their time on the track.

"But from the overall package, and let's say on this circuit, it looks like we are a little bit ahead". "It's always hard to compare but it matters in a couple of week's time, that's when its serious".

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Charles Leclerc was another standout in the Sauber, striking a good balance between speed and total distance―although he did go off the track in the final minutes―while Raikkonen didn't push the Ferrari all the way and never threatened the top times. "We seem to be close, and Ferrari I would guess are probably close, within our pace". It used to be only fuel and tyres, now it's energy, and modes, whatever. Again, a true reading of the competitive order will not be ascertained until F1 travels to Melbourne.

McLaren is using Renault engines this season after three struggling years with Honda.

Ricciardo has also been linked with McLaren as an eventual successor to Fernando Alonso, although the Woking outfit's title drought stretches five seasons' longer than Red Bull's.

They were both more than a second quicker than Lewis Hamilton's pole position with Mercedes in last year's Spanish Grand Prix. After two hours, he had completed more laps than the team managed in the entirety of Tuesday's run.

Williams development driver Robert Kubica spent the morning in the FW41 before handing over to race driver Lance Stroll in the afternoon.

Like Hamilton, Verstappen did not elect to focus on single-lap pace on Thursday, ending up only 12th-fastest.

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