x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Vettel leads Formula One testing

Sebastien Vettel started his Red Bull career by leading the Formula One testing in Catalunya.

Sebastien Vettel has made a flying start since his promotion from Torro Rosso to Red Bull.
Sebastien Vettel has made a flying start since his promotion from Torro Rosso to Red Bull.

BARCELONA // Sebastien Vettel started his Red Bull career by leading the Formula One testing, while Pedro de la Rossa's hopes of a move to Force India got off to a poor start. Vettel, who is jumping to Red Bull from sister team Toro Rosso, clocked a best lap of 1 minute, 19.751 seconds around the Circuit de Catalunya track on the outskirts of Barcelona. Takuma Sato continued his bid to return to F1 after finishing less than three-tenths of a second behind Vettel for Toro Rosso.

The Japanese driver topped Monday's first day of testing after spending most of 2008 on the sidelines after the Super Aguri team folded. Toro Rosso's Sebastien Bourdais, who needs to impress team officials still undecided about next season's line-up, was third fastest. De la Rossa, the McLaren test driver aiming for a seat with Force India, finished last in the 17-car field with a best lap of 1:23.499.

"It's a different car to the McLaren," said De la Rossa, who will also test for the back-markers today. "They're only giving me a test so we have to stick to that." The 37-year-old Spaniard's test comes after last week's announcement from Force India that it had ditched Ferrari to sign a five-year technical partnership with McLaren and Mercedes for 2009. De la Rossa drove for Arrows and Jaguar before joining McLaren in 2005 and has 72 career races, but his last grand prix was in Brazil two years ago.

Several of the teams tested on slick tyres and the KERS energy recovery system that all teams will need to use next year. The design of BMW Sauber's new car was an eclectic mix of 2009 modifications dumped on a 2008 car. "To me, for the moment, it's the worst (looking) Formula One car I have ever seen," the BMW Sauber tester Christian Klien told autosport.com. "It just doesn't fit together. But we will get used to it. There will be a lot of modifications until the first race in March."

*AP