F1 Pre-Season Testing 2020: Thursday Times and Analysis from Barcelona

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2020

Sebastian Vettel steers his Ferrari during the Formula One pre-season testing session at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, outside Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
Joan Monfort/Associated Press

Sebastian Vettel recorded Ferrari's fastest time so far in Formula One 2020 pre-season testing on Day 2 at theย Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain, but there was frustration for Lewis Hamilton, with his Mercedes suffering a power-unit failure.

The second week of testing resumed in Catalonia, where Vettel was one of several drivers to spin off the track on Thursday. That didn't prevent him clocking a fastest time of one minute, 16.841 seconds, though.

Mercedes were the dominant outfit in the first week of testing but haven't looked quite as promising in Week 2, with Valtteri Bottas finishing seventh and more than a second off the leading pace.

The official Formula One Twitter account posted the times from Thursday, with Vettel completing 144 laps:

Formula 1 @F1

Seb finishes on ๐Ÿ” #F1Testing ๐Ÿ Day 5 ๐Ÿ https://t.co/6eylbC4SSA

Overnight rain caused disruption on Thursday when even the most respected drivers in the field had trouble keeping their cars on the track.

Most drivers venturing out early in the first session opted for intermediate tyres. Driving was hindered as a result, and it was only towards the end of this portion of testing that the times started to drop down to normal levels.

Vettel was responsible for a red flag with around 30 minutes remaining in the morning when he spun off the track at Turn 5 after losing his rear end:

Formula 1 @F1

Another spin at Turn 5 ๐Ÿšจ Vettel is the latest driver to go off after testing the limits #F1 #F1Testing https://t.co/z5j5LFVCNm

It turned out well for the German as his SF1000 knocked Stroll off the top of the timesheets soon after returning to the track with a new fastest time of 1:17.093.

Vettel made the switch to C5 tyresโ€”the softest availableโ€”and immediately improved his time by breaking the 1:17 mark for the first time in pre-season testing.

Stroll deserved credit for keeping the RP20 in contention at the top of the leaderboard despite recording the second-fewest laps of any driver in the opening session, per Autosport Live:

Autosport Live @autosportlive

As for the laps completed, the tally is this:Vettel - 49Bottas - 47Latifi - 43Norris - 43Ocon - 37Gasly - 35Verstappen - 31Magnussen - 31Stroll - 30Giovinazzi - 16 #F1

Alfa Romeo'sย Antonio Giovinazzi saw his morning round ended when he hit the barriers at Turn 4 and broke part of his rear wing, though AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly was still the slowest of the bunch in 10th before finding his top speed.

Renault's Esteban Ocon showed some signs of struggling to navigate the wet track in his R.S.20, while Verstappen spun off at Turn 5 earlier in the first session:

Formula 1 @F1

๐Ÿšฉ RED FLAG ๐Ÿšฉ Max Verstappen is beached in the gravel at Turn 5 #F1 #F1Testing https://t.co/WKZch0oDpS

Autosport's Luke Smith nodded to Verstappen's pre-season testing concerns thus far:

Luke Smith @LukeSmithF1

Red flag in testing as Max Verstappen beaches his car at Turn 5 - been having quite a few issues keeping his car on-track through testing thus far... #F1 #F1Testing

Hamilton's woes were the talking point of the afternoon session, and the world champion could only complete 14 laps before his car failure:

Formula 1 @F1

๐Ÿšฉ RED FLAG ๐Ÿšฉ Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes grinds to a halt during #F1Testing #F1 https://t.co/fX5o6jU5ma

The Brit couldn't get back out on the track as investigations continued into his car's breakdown, and the Silver Arrows will be concerned by the latest developments in testing.

Mercedes-AMG F1 @MercedesAMGF1

UPDATE: @LewisHamilton stopped on track due to an oil pressure anomaly, which made the engine shut down as a precautionary measure. We will keep investigating further but unfortunately that concludes our running for the day #F1Testing https://t.co/sOeumgFjTq

Vettel will be pleased with his vehicle's performance, with increased downforce aiding the German's lap times.

The Ferrari's straight-line speed seems to have decreased, but there are signs the car might be more competitive in races this term.

However, the Prancing Horse are playing their cards close to their chest in practice. Mercedes still appear to have the overall edge, but Ferrari could cause a surprise during the opening race in Australia on March 15.