Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel set the pace on a wet-dry penultimate morning of Formula 1 pre-season testing at Barcelona.

Heavy overnight rain left the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya soaked and led to a quiet start, before the times began to tumble when drivers switched to slick tyres heading into the second hour of running.

Vettel surged to the top of the timesheets with 45 minutes remaining as he strapped on a set of C4 Soft tyres to post a 1m17.093s, before improving his time in the closing stages on the C5s with a 1m16.841s - the second-fastest time seen so far throughout testing.

Lance Stroll was 0.277s adrift of Vettel’s benchmark after leading some of the morning session as Racing Point continued to impress during what has been a promising pre-season for the Silverstone outfit.

The four-hour session was disrupted by three red flags, the first caused when Antonio Giovinazzi lost control of his Alfa Romeo after touching the wet kerbs, sending him spinning rearwards into the Turn 4 barriers. The Italian managed to limp back to the pits with damage to the rear wing of his C39 but had strewn debris across the track.

Proceedings had not long restarted before the second stoppage occurred when Max Verstappen beached his car in the gravel at Turn 5 after spinning off. It marked the Red Bull driver’s second spin of the morning, following a slow-speed pirouette while exiting the final chicane during an aero run.

Morning pacesetter Vettel was responsible for the third red flag period which was triggered after he kicked up gravel onto the track, having been pitched into a spin at Turn 5 after losing control of the rear of his SF1000.

Nicholas Latifi was third-fastest after a late improvement on Soft tyres to end the morning 0.472s off the pace having recorded Williams’ fastest time of the winter so far on a 1m17.313s.

The Canadian rookie headed McLaren’s Lando Norris and Verstappen, who returned to action shortly after his spin to finish nearly a second adrift on Hards in fifth spot.

Valtteri Bottas logged a near half-century of laps before handing over to reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who will takeover to conduct Mercedes’ afternoon test programme.

Next up came Renault’s Esteban Ocon and the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, with Giovinazzi and AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly rounding out the order at the lunchbreak.

Along with Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo and Alexander Albon are set to return to action this afternoon for Renault and Red Bull respectively.

The penultimate afternoon session begins at 1400 hours local time (1300 GMT).

 

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