In Brief

F1: Hamilton admits Ferrari are fastest and Vettel joins Mercedes

World champion expects ‘toughest battle yet’ against the Scuderia

As Sebastian Vettel recorded the quickest time of pre-season testing his Formula 1 rival Lewis Hamilton admitted that Ferrari were leading the pack ahead of the new campaign.

Sky Sports reports that Ferrari ace Vettel topped the timesheets in Barcelona on Friday morning with a lap time of 1:16.221. As of lunch on the final day of testing Vettel remained in No.1 spot ahead of Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.

Reigning F1 world champion Hamilton will hit the track in his Mercedes W10 on Friday afternoon and speaking to Sky Sports he warned that Ferrari are the ones to beat in 2019. However, the British driver also said it could take four races before the teams know where they stand.   

Hamilton said: “I think the gap [to Ferrari] is potentially half a second. Ferrari are the fastest. This is going to be the toughest battle yet. Ferrari’s pace is very, very good at the moment. The challenge is going to be harder than ever.

“Testing is testing. There’s no reward for being quick in testing. We don’t know because everyone has different engine modes and fuel loads. It will be four races before we really know where we stand.”

The first grand prix of the season will take place in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday 17 March.

Vettel joins Mercedes

Planet F1 reports that Vettel has signed for Mercedes… not Sebastian, but his younger brother Fabian.

With Sebastian starring for Ferrari in F1 and Fabian set to drive for Mercedes in the ADAC GT Masters series, the Vettel family loyalties could now be tested.

“Mercedes was always our opponent,” said Fabian Vettel. “It was like that practically for the whole family, because my brother has always raced against them, so in the beginning it was funny.

“But I have no problem that my brother battles Mercedes in Formula 1 and I drive for them in the GT Masters.”

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