Sebastian Vettel enjoyed a satisfying return to the cockpit of a Ferrari as 2019 F1 pre-season testing began in Barcelona, finishing the day comfortably at the head of the field in his SF90.
Vettel was both the fastest driver – his 1m 18.161s set before lunch making him one of only two drivers to lap the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya today in under 79 seconds – and the one with the most laps under his belt, completing around two and a half race distances. A minor spin for the German, when he lit up the rear wheels coming out of the final chicane, was the only cloud on his horizon.
Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel combined to notch up 598 laps, second only to Mercedes, and topped most of the first two days of running.
Ferrari head into F1 Testing with fresh problems to solve
Scuderia not ruling out notion of conceptual problem with 2019 car after Barcelona struggle; Ferrari on track with rivals again at Barcelona test.
Ferrari head into F1’s final in-season test of the year at Barcelona unsure how long it will take to resolve their 2019 car’s problems.
Despite an upgrade to both their chassis and engine for the Spanish GP, Ferrari were thrashed by Mercedes, and also beaten in Sunday’s race by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, with their F1 title hopes fast unravelling.
Questions have started to turn to whether Ferrari’s 2019 car concept, which initially earned rave reviews in winter testing, could be at the root of their problem.
Speaking on Sunday night, team boss Mattia Binotto said: “We are losing a lot in each corner, not only in the last sector.
“In each single corner we are slow, quite a lot of understeer. Is that only downforce? Is it more than that? I think it’s something we really need to analyse and understand.
“Any early conclusion would be wrong, it will take some days to really have some proper analysis and understand. Is it a matter of balance? Is it a matter of downforce? Is it a matter of different concepts? I don’t think we have the answer yet.”
Ferrari make an immediate return to the Circuit de Catalunya for the two-day group, with Charles Leclerc and test driver Antonio Fuoco driving on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. Sebastian Vettel and then Leclerc, meanwhile, are in the other SF90 across the two days for Pirelli tyre testing.
“The limitations we had [in Barcelona] were present already in the first races of the season,” explained Binotto.
“How long [to fix] it will take is difficult to answer. First we need to understand how to fix them and after that I’m pretty sure we can do it quickly.”
He added: “We are quite a young team and we are still in the learning phase. There is still much to learn and I’m pretty happy in terms of the team improving. The concept design, it depends what it is and there are things you can address in the season.”
A month after the last two-day test in Bahrain, F1’s teams are getting their second early-season opportunity to run their cars on track outside of a race weekend.
The test sees the usual mix of regular race drivers and young hopefuls, with Spanish GP point-scorers Valtteri Bottas, Leclerc, Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat joined on the two-day line-up by British youngster Callum Ilott, who makes his F1 debut with Alfa Romeo, and Russia’s Nikita Mazepin, who drives the Mercedes W10 on Wednesday.
Ilott, 20, is a member of Ferrari’s Academy, while Mazepin has previously tested for Force India. Renault’s Jack Aitken and Racing Point’s Nick Yelloly, who last tested an F1 car in 2015, are also in action.
|Full Team Name||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow|
|Team Chief||Mattia Binotto|
|First Team Entry||1950|
|Highest Race Finish||1 (x236)|
All photography Aleksandr B. Seregin