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Vettel leaves partying Hamilton in his wake

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Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in action at the Barcelona-Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, Spain March 9, 2017

BARCELONA, Spain, Mar 9 – Sebastian Vettel set Ferrari’s hopes for the 2017 Formula One season soaring by blitzing the fastest time seen in pre-season testing in Barcelona on Thursday.

The German four-time world champion clocked 1min 19.024 around a sun-kissed Circuit de Catalunya despite appearing to ease off in the third sector of his fastest lap.

Vettel also showed the reliability of the SF70H by logging a marathon 155 laps to also record the most miles for the day.

Worryingly for three-time defending champions Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton was three tenths slower on the same ultrasoft tyre compound used by Vettel.

Hamilton, though, may have been suffering the after effects of a long night as he celebrated Barcelona’s sensational Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain with Barca star Neymar into the early hours in the Catalan capital.

Valtteri Bottas took over in the Mercedes for the afternoon, but concentrated on longer runs in completing 95 laps in eighth fastest.

Frenchman Esteban Ocon was another one of four drivers to pass the 100-lap mark in third fastest for Force India.

McLaren’s miserable preparation for the season, which gets underway in Melbourne on March 26, continued as electrical issues saw Belgian rookie Stoffel Vandoorne stop twice out on the track.

Vandoorne completed just 48 laps as once again McLaren and their problematic Honda engine were left at the back of the paddock in terms of mileage completed.

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