Vettel set the quickest lap of one minute 18.161 seconds on a sunny morning at the Circuit de Catalunya, his time on the C3 medium tyres already quicker than anything set during the weather-hit first four-day test of 2018. His day got off to a bad start when he spun into the gravel on the exit of Turn 4 on his outlap, but the team put the mistake down to a setting change on the steering rather than a lapse from the driver.
Headline lap times in pre-season are a notoriously unreliable guide to form because teams do not reveal the specification in which cars are running, and tyres, fuel loads and engine modes all have a significant effect on lap time. Laps, mileage and reliability are the main objectives, as well as getting to know the auto.
Only nine of the 10 teams appeared on track, with struggling Williams failing to get their vehicle ready on time and not expecting to test until Wednesday at the earliest. "As soon as I braked, I lost the vehicle and spun". "The vehicle seems to be handling well, it was showing consistency".
"First impressions of the VF-19 were very good", said Magnussen. I certainly have a good feeling to start off with.
Five times world champion Lewis Hamilton shared the work at Mercedes with team mate Valtteri Bottas, who did the morning session in the silver W10 before handing over. He also survived a 360-degree spin in the middle of the track en route to finishing 132 laps and recording the fourth-best time. The team's reserve Pietro Fittipaldi took over for 13 laps at the end of the day, managing a 1:21.849 during his brief stint behind the wheel.
"I am sure when we do all the testing we will end up at some point behind other cars".
"The auto was working really well, we had no issues slowing us down", said Vettel.
"Since the auto is brand new, we immediately found ways to improve the balance and the behaviour and we will continue to work on that in the next days", he continued.
"Now we want [to go] back to wide".
Williams' auto was not ready to run for a second consecutive day.
Comparisons between the top two teams remain hard without anything resembling a qualifying or race simulation from either and it should be noted that Mercedes rarely shows its hand in the opening week of testing.