YAS ISLAND, Abu Dhabi – Sebastian Vettel paced the opening day of the Pirelli tire test at the Yas Marina Circuit on Tuesday despite and spin and resulting rear wing damage.
Vettel spun in turn one and backed his Ferrari into the wall, damaging his rear wing. Vettel drove the car back to the pits with minor damage, which the Ferrari team repaired.
Vettel responded later in the afternoon by setting the fastest time of the day at 1:36.812 ahead of the Mercedes driven by Valtteri Bottas, who was .419 of a second slower.
“The purpose of this test is primarily to get a first feeling of the new tires, with the impressions of the last weekend of racing still fresh in our minds, which gave us the possibility to compare,” said Vettel. “Unfortunately, today we lost some track time to repair work, but overall I think there were no major surprises as these tires seem to work and to be fairly similar to the ones we used this season. Now we’ll see how the new regulations for 2019 affect the speed of all cars and how they work in combination with the tires, also depending on the compound choices at the various tracks.”
The test is the first opportunity for drivers who have switched teams to work with their new organizations. Among them are Kimi Raikkonen, who is returning to Sauber for the first time since his rookie season in F-1 in 2001.
Raikkonen’s day was cut short when he spun in the turn seven hairpin after turning 100 laps. He ended his day three seconds off his former Ferrari teammate Vettel in 11th.
Other notables included Lance Stroll, making his debut for Force India, who was third fastest overall. Lando Norris, who will be joining McLaren next year, was sixth fastest. Pietro Fittipaldi, testing for Haas F1 after recently signing a deal to become a reserve driver, was eighth.
Robert Kubica, who is returning to Formula One competition, was ninth fastest followed by his new teammate George Russell in 10th.