Sebastian Vettel warns against jumping to early conclusions about Ferrari pace
MONTMELO, Spain -- Sebastian Vettel is refusing to draw conclusions from the eye-opening lap times he set on the penultimate day of Formula One's winter tests.
During a 188-lap session in the new Ferrari, Vettel obliterated the Circuit de Catalunya lap record on Pirelli's new hyper-soft tyre, crossing the line in 1:17.182 shortly before the lunch break. That time was 1.2s quicker than the next car, the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, although Ferrari's main rivals Mercedes and Red Bull were not focused on performance testing.
When asked if anything could be made of his benchmark lap, he said: "No, it's just a time. There's been a lot of times, what's important is the car was working all day.
"We did nearly 200 laps so that was good! Overall the conditions were better than yesterday. It's always difficult to compare but it matters in a couple of week's time, that's when its serious.
"It always depends what you do. It's the wrong conclusion to look at the timesheet, there's a lot more than one lap. I think today the track was also quite fast but we were running a slightly different programme to others."
Having refused to speculate on the potential of Ferrari's car, Vettel said the main focus now is to ensure it learns the lessons of testing in time for the Australian Grand Prix on March 25.
"Obviously our target is to be up front but this is the wrong time to say anything. You've seen more cars going round than I have this week. I had more time to look at the timesheets as well so I'm sure in the next couple of days we will know a little bit more heading to Australia.
"For now the important thing is we know our car is working the way we want, the way we expect. Let's see whether we get there. Also its always difficult to know, these days so many variables. It used to be only fuel and tyres, now it's energy, and modes, whatever. So it's the wrong time to draw any conclusions.
Either side of Vettel's performance runs, Ferrari set about conducting longer stints and a full race simulation just after lunch. The four-time world champion was happy to see the day go without major disruption to his programme.
"Not my first winter testing and preparation for a season, usually it's scheduled, the race sim, and always something happens. We got a smooth run, no car issues, no red flags, so we could get through. Also for the guys, they did the stops. So that was solid.
"I don't know in terms of pace, you always think you could have done better here and there, just like racing! But it was OK. Mostly that we did a lot of laps, also the race [simulation] we had a chunk of laps, that was important in understanding the car, to be honest, and understand what we need and things we still need to get on top of."