Vettel sets fastest preseason lap for Ferrari

MONTMELO, Spain (AP) Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel recorded the fastest preseason time during the second-to-last day of Formula One testing on Thursday.

Vettel pushed his Ferrari to a lap of 1 minute, 19.024 seconds, bettering his mark from earlier in the day that already was faster than that clocked by Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas on Wednesday.

Bottas' previous leading mark was already the fastest ever recorded at the Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya since layout changes made a decade ago.

After a chicane was introduced in 2007, the best lap time had been set by Red Bull driver Mark Webber in 2010, with 1:19.995 during qualifying.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was second best to Vettel through Thursday's four-hour morning session, finishing his best effort only 0.326 seconds off Vettel's pace.

While Ferrari and Mercedes dueled for speed, McLaren suffered another demoralizing setback after Stoffel Vandoorne's car twice puttered to a halt on the track. McLaren has been plagued by stoppages and slow speeds from its Honda motor through the two weeks of tests.

Testing continues on Thursday afternoon and Friday as teams make their final preparations for the season opening Australian Grand Prix on March 26.

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