Ferrari need to recover their testing pace, says Vettel

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Since then, Mercedes has secured four consecutive one-two results, and Bottas says new parts brought to Barcelona have moved the vehicle forward even more.

The Swiss Cyborg appeared as the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to make history as the first non-Formula 1 personality to present the Pirelli Pole Position Award to Valtteri Bottas.

VALTTERI BOTTAS topped both practice sessions for the Spanish Grand Prix as Mercedes underlined their pace advantage. But Hamilton and Bottas were still faster than their Ferrari rivals. It may have helped as the Frenchman was fifth fastest during an early practice session on Friday.

Vettel lapped in 1:18.066 with Leclerc's best time a 1:18.172.

Where has Ferrari's pace gone?

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"It's still unclear to me in Q3, the balance was very odd so we need to check to see if the auto is fine but anyway, we were slower than the Mercedes today and that's it".

Wolff noted that Ferrari dominated in preseason testing in Barcelona and is expected to bring a strong package to the race in Spain.

The Racing Point mechanics performed a stellar job to ensure his vehicle was ready for the afternoon session - Stroll finishing 13th.

Ferrari, although being the most successful team around this circuit with eight victories, struggled to prove their pace previous year with Vettel finishing fourth behind Max Verstappen and current Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen not finishing the race with an engine problem. My lap was fine and I was satisfied with it: It's just that you don't see that in the lap times.

Though the Red cars will know a win this time out is nearly essential in keeping tabs on the front runners. The competition is very strong, which is not a surprise.

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Bottas leads Hamilton by one point overall.

It took until 2014 for Hamilton to register a victory at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya but he added another pair of wins in 2017/18 to sit on three, behind only six-time victor Michael Schumacher on the all-time list.

Ferrari and the rest of the field could take a glimmer of hope from Bottas having to box for an apparent leak and Hamilton telling the team radio at one point that he was "struggling". "Car-wise we put everything on the auto that we expected and I think it's fair (to say) that we haven't been the quickest".

Barcelona has also been a happy hunting ground for Red Bull, with Max Verstappen becoming the sport's youngest victor there in 2016.

The young Belgian also provided a scare to Bottas in the morning, when Verstappen flew through a curve and nearly rammed into the Finn. Leclerc was within a quarter-of-a-second of the Mercedes driver. He also complained later he was losing power when he tried to accelerate. Stroll walked away and was back out on the track once team mechanics patched up his crunched auto.

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His efforts were in vain, however, and he was eliminated in 16th place along with Lance Stroll of Racing Point, Antonio Giovinazzi of Sauber and the two Williams men, British rookie George Russell and Robert Kubica. Which meant he had to go out early for his first run in the top 10 shoot-out to charge it. Sunday's race starts at 2.10pm.

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