GUNNING FOR THE TITLE? Ferrari seems to be the team to beat ahead of the 2017 F1 season. Image: AFP / Jose Jordan
Barcelona, Spain - Sebastian Vettel set Ferrari's hopes for the 2017 Formula 1 season soaring by blitzing the fastest time seen in pre-season testing in Barcelona on Thursday.
The four-time world champion clocked 1min19:024, despite appearing to ease off in the third sector of his fastest lap.
Time to party!
Tyre manufacturer Pirelli tweeted: "Reports indicate that #Seb5 backed off: could he have set a 1m18s time? The fun and games have well and truly started!"
Worryingly for three-time defending champions Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton was three tenths slower on the same ultrasoft tyre compound used by Vettel.
READ: F1 drivers happy with the hurt dished out by faster cars
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.
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 and in need of a tow back to the paddock.