Bottas quickest as Barcelona F1 test ends

After a phenomenal start to the 2018 season with back-to-back wins at Australia and Bahrain, Ferrari star Sebastian Vettel has now fallen behind world title rival Lewis Hamilton, as the gap further widened after the conclusion of Spanish Grand Prix. "We had problems finding the right balance of the vehicle and we were struggling with the front tires".

After a relatively sluggish start to 2018, Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport's chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin has said that the team's first 1-2 finish of the season is a "great reward".

Indeed, Mercedes is the only team running both its regular race drivers this week which means that reserve driver George Russell will probably drive both days in Hungary later in the year. "Tomorrow I'm driving the Pirelli vehicle - a different programme entirely from today, but still a good opportunity for more time in the auto". "Our programme included a series of aero test items with extra instrumentation on the vehicle in the early part of the day, which allowed him to get up to speed with how we operate and with understanding the VJM11".

We've seen the wings get bigger, smaller, wider, higher, lower and a combination of all of these, but the feeling coming out of the F1 technical camp is that this time the changes proposed have been better researched than anytime before.

The defending Formula One world champion was at his imperious best as he won by 20 seconds from Valtteri Bottas in a welcome one-two for Mercedes. The German driver later stated that he would have been unable to complete the race on his second set of tyres, as a result of his exceptionally early first pit-stop.

Despite their lack of pace in Spain, where not only were they not able to extract the same speed from their tyres as Mercedes but were also unable to coax them to last as long as the silver cars, the Italian team have had the most versatile auto so far this season.

Testing in northeastern Spain concludes on Wednesday.

"Lewis was able to control the race and whilst we could have gone longer on that first stint, the front tyre was quite worn and we made a decision to stop as a precaution as there was no real threat from behind", he said. "This put Lewis behind [Max] Verstappen but we knew he had to stop so there was no urgency to pass".

If Pirelli sticks to the plan, Vettel admits that Ferrari has some homework to do. Clearly the Ferrari was eating up its tyres more than the Mercedes, which is why the team felt the need to also do an extra pit stop.

"It was into Turn 12, it's the one corner that has been quite tricky because of the wind", said Norris of his morning spin.

"Today we just didn't have the right pace, Mercedes was faster than us and we hadn't many chances", Vettel said. I'm very interested to see what happens in Monaco next time out as they should be in better shape in qualifying. On lap 34 Daniel Ricciardo finally heads to the pits allowing Vettel and Bottas to advance.

"We had updates and maybe the others brought more than us". The Swede had started the race on the medium compound tyres when most of the grid went with the soft option.

But the first lap wasn't even over when disaster struck.

"I'm looking forward to Monaco". Kimi Raikkonen took pole a year ago.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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