JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, Spain (AFP) – Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel continued his positive start to life with Ferrari by going fastest again on a rain affected second day of pre-season testing in Jerez on Monday.
The 27-year-old German took nearly two seconds off the fastest time he set on Sunday to record a best time of 1min 20.984secs in his 88 laps.
Vettel’s start to the new campaign is in stark contrast to his disastrous test in Jerez, ahead of a troubled final season with Red Bull last year, when he completed just 11 laps over two days.
“It could be worse, especially compared to last year at this stage,” said Vettel.
“We did a lot of laps, especially today. I think it is normal in winter testing if you see anything running a bit odd to take the time to stop and have a look which unfortunately takes time, but the new engines seem to work well even in these conditions.”
Vettel will hand over the steering wheel on the SF15-T to teammate Kimi Raikkonen for the remaining two days of testing in southern Spain.
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was only fourth fastest, but Mercedes were again leaders on laps completed as the Englishman did 91 before rain and a water leak from a failed part brought his afternoon to an early end.
McLaren’s struggles with their new Honda-powered MP4-30 continued as Jenson Button managed just six laps to add to the same number Fernando Alonso completed on day one.
“Obviously not the easiest start to the season, but as we know it is a very complicated power unit,” said Button.
“We will get our heads around it and I think in terms of the problems we had today, we have our head around it and understand the issue.
“We are hoping for a much more productive day three and day four.”
Red Bull were also left looking embarrassed when 20-year-old Daniil Kyvat damaged the only front wing they have with them in Jerez early on, which restricted the Russian to just 18 untimed laps.
“It was not ideal today, sometimes mistakes happen and there’s nothing you can do about them,” said Kyvat.
By contrast, 17-year-old Max Verstappen enjoyed a fruitful opening day of his Formula One career for Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso as he went fifth fastest in 73 laps.
Sauber’s surprising early reliability and speed was on show once more as Brazilian rookie Felipe Nasr was second fastest in racking up 88 laps just as teammate Marcus Ericsson had been on Sunday.