Sebastian Vettel described Ferrari’s opening day of pre-season testing as “unbelievable” after topping both the times and the lap count on Monday.
Ferrari completed a shakedown with its 2019 car on Sunday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya before testing officially got underway, and the team enjoyed near-faultless running to complete 169 laps. Not only was that the most mileage, Vettel’s best lap of 1m18.161s was over two seconds faster than the quickest lap on the first day a year ago, and left him a second clear of the next car on the same tire.
“Honestly no, we couldn’t have hoped for a better day,” Vettel said. “I think it was unbelievable. The car was working really well, we had no issues slowing us down, we did the program just the way we wanted — we were able to squeeze a little bit more out, even.
“The first impressions yesterday already were very good and strong, and the same today. It seems that the car is working. I feel comfortable. Obviously I’m still a bit rusty because I haven’t driven for a couple of months, but getting better — I certainly got enough laps today, I’m going to sleep well tonight!
“The car is working, I’m very happy — it’s doing what I want so very pleased at the moment.”
Although he was clearly buoyed by the start to Ferrari’s season, Vettel says it is far too early to make a call on whether all of the ingredients are in place to challenge for the drivers’ championship in his fifth season with the team — a significant year, given Michael Schumacher’s first title with Ferrari came at the same stage.
“It’s too early. It’s only one day. It doesn’t feel like five years, to be honest, but that’s what it is. Overall, the progression is there. We’re getting closer together year by year. I hope this year we can have a lot of fun, win a lot of races and fight for the championship — that’s what we want, but at this point it’s very far away.
“If we can maintain the level of enjoyment we found on the track today and the smiles on peoples’ faces the last couple of months, I’m positive and hopeful for the future.”