Vettel sets new test record, as McLaren continues to falter

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Sebastian Vettel redefined the top time of 2017 pre-season testing with an impressive showing on the penultimate morning at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

Despite chilly early morning conditions in sunny Spain, it was Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton who had got straight down to work. While other drivers were still carrying out shakedown laps, he was already putting in his fastest times of 2017 pre-season testing so far.

Hamilton was still on top of the timing screens midway through the four-hour session, but then Ferrari turned up the wick. That allowed Vettel to grab the top spot with an impressive turn of speed clocking in at 1:19.341s on soft tyres.

A subsequent change to ultrasofts finally saw Vettel eclipse Valtteri Bottas' Wednesday time which had previously been the fastest anyone had gone in pre-season testing. Even though he appeared to be holding back in the final sector, Vettel still finished the session with a best time of 1:19.024s.

Hamilton came out on ultrasofts in the final minutes, appearing set to reply to Ferrari's impressive pace. However after logging his fastest lap to date of 1:19.352s, Hamilton found his efforts thwarted by a late red flag.

It was the second stoppage of the day, and the cause for both was McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne.

After a quiet start focussing on aerodynamic measurements, Vandoorne had been providing some much needed cheer to the McLaren camp. A series of trouble-free runs saw the MCL32 complete its fastest laps so far in pre-season testing, with the best clocking in at 1:21.348s.

Unfortunately the car then returned to form. After completing 30 laps in the morning session, it broke down as it exited the pit lane and triggered the first red flag of the day with 45 minutes left in the session.

The team got the car running again and it was out on track while Hamilton was making his final flying lap time. Unfortunately Vandoorne ground to a halt for a second time in under an hour, this time parking on the outside of the turn 10 hairpin. The session ended under the ensuing red flag.

Force India's Esteban Ocon had a strong run and was third fastest after completing 51 laps. A late effort put Daniil Kvyat's Toro Rosso into fourth ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo while Kevin Magnussen was in sixth place for Haas.

Behind Vandoorne, Jolyon Palmer was eighth fastest and completed the fewest laps of anyone during the morning. He will hand the car over to Nico Hulkenberg this afternoon.

Sauber's Marcus Ericsson was ninth fastest on 1m23.330s but completed an impressive 88 laps during the four hour session, the most of anyone in action today.

Williams' Lance Stroll also put in a good morning's work, completing 85 laps in the morning while staying out of trouble. However, the pace was lacking and he finished slowest of anyone.

F1 testing resumes at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya at 14:00, local time. Make sure to follow our live coverage on our dedicated, as-it-happens page.

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3OconForce India1:20.16151US
4KvyatToro Rosso1:20.41634SS
5RicciardoRed Bull1:20.82441S

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