Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel tops Mercedes for fastest time at F1 tests

Lewis Hamilton has said he is very impressed with Ferrari's showing in Winter Testing and now does not believe that the Scuderia are "bluffing".

Ferrari look like they could be genuine challengers this season after a disappointing 2016 campaign and Hamilton agrees that they are very close to Mercedes, while also not denying that the Italians could be faster. "I did some good mileage - 95 laps - and some very interesting long run testing this afternoon on the different tyre compounds, as well as set-up work and evaluation of all the parts we've got for the auto".

Raikkonen's teammate and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel had been fastest on Thursday in 1:19.024.

Romain Grosjean's running finished slightly early thanks to a water leak on his Haas, putting the Frenchman 10th with 76 laps and prompting him to concede that the team still face 'unknowns' ahead of Australia.

"I don't know if Red Bull had their full package here". With a time of 1m 19.024s reduced by nearly three tenths the 1m 19.310s that Valtteri Bottas had marked with his Mercedes on Wednesday.

Sergio Perez joined Ocon behind the wheel of the team's Mercedes-powered VJM10 vehicle. The British racing team will once again have Spaniard Fernando Alonso (left) in the cockpit.

The 2017 Formula One teams Toro Rosso - more than the little Red Bulls? Russian driver Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Junior, the son of two-time rally world champion Carlos Sainz, constitute an unchanged driver line-up.

But it continues the impression that Ferrari may be in better shape heading into this season than they have been for some time.

McLaren's miserable preparation for the season, which gets under way in Melbourne in a fortnight, continued as electrical issues saw Belgian rookie Stoffel Vandoorne stop twice out on the track.

Alonso was bottom of the timesheets by more than a second, 4.1 seconds off Raikkonen's pace and with only 19 laps to his credit at lunchtime. And back-to-back stoppages during the session when teams want to be priming their cars for the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks is alarming.

  • Joanne Flowers