Ferrari up their pace in disruptive morning session

Sebastian Vettel has set Ferrari’s new fastest time of the winter in a tricky morning session due to weather conditions in Barcelona.

Vettel posted a 1:16.841 on the softest C5 tyre to top the morning timesheet on the penultimate day of F1 testing, which is well over a second quicker than Ferrari’s previous best testing time.

To put the lap time into further context, it is the third quickest lap of pre-season but still 1.1 seconds down on the quickest time set by Valtteri Bottas on the same tyre in the first test – a 1:15.732.

Vettel was also one of three drivers to cause the session to be red flagged.

Turn 5 in particular proved to be a very tricky corner to negotiate as the tailwind sent Vettel into a spin and he chucked lots of gravel on the track as he recovered the situation.

Max Verstappen, though, who sits P5 at the lunch break, did not have the same luck as he became beached in the same gravel trap, eating precious time into Red Bull’s schedule.

Valtteri Bottas, down in P6 before handing over the W11 to Lewis Hamilton on Thursday afternoon, also had an off at Turn 5 but was able to keep going.

Joining Vettel and Verstappen on the red flag list was Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, P9, who wrecked the rear wing of his C39 when placing a tyre on a wet kerb at Turn 4. It instantly sent his car sideways off track and into the barrier.

The damage was not too major, however, as he was able to return to the track to get some more laps under his belt before the lunch break.

Giovinazzi’s off was part of a frenetic second half of the morning session. The first two hours saw just six drivers set timed laps due to overnight rain and that left teams initially reluctant to send their cars out.

Renault’s Esteban Ocon was one of the brave ones, managing to avoid any serious damage despite slipping and sliding his way around the track.

Slip 'n' Slide 🤪@OconEsteban negotiates the @Circuitcat_eng after some overnight rain ☔️#F1 #F1Testing pic.twitter.com/aGh8mGmMpu

— Formula 1 (@F1) February 27, 2020

Elsewhere, Lance Stroll also bettered Racing Point’s best time of testing with a 1:17.118 while Nicholas Latifi was in the lofty heights of P3 for Williams.

Thursday afternoon’s session will see three driver swaps take place. Hamilton is in for Bottas at Mercedes, Daniel Ricciardo replaces Ocon at Renault and Red Bull’s Alex Albon takes over driving duties from Verstappen.

Day 2 morning timesheet:

1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:16.841 48 C5
2 Lance Stroll Racing Point +0.277 30  C3
3 Nicholas Latifi Williams +0.472 43 C5
4 Lando Norris McLaren +0.732 43 C3
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing +0.897 28 C2
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +1.144 47 C3
7 Esteban Ocon Renault +1.172 34 C4
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team +1.384 31 C3
9 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing +2.829 16 C3
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +5.725 35 C3

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