German world champion Sebastian Vettel threw down the gauntlet to his rivals on the first day of Formula One testing in Valencia, Spain on Tuesday as driving a Red Bull he clocked the fastest time.
The 23-year-old clocked a best time of 1 minute 13.769 seconds in the 93 laps that he covered and professed himself to be delighted with the session.
“It is generally better to be at the top of the list than on the other side,” said Vettel, who became the youngest ever world champion when he clinched the title in the final race of last season in Abu Dhabi.
“It is something that Red Bull has never succeeded in doing in the last two to three years. It is a really good sign.
“And whats more, I felt really good in the car. I really enjoyed myself. It is a really good start, although one shouldn’t jump to conclusions too quickly.
“These are tests for all of us, with different programmes. We must be conscious that the big teams, I hope us, but also McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes, and maybe a surprise from a team like Renault have shown nothing yet.”
His legendary compatriot Michael Schumacher gave the new Mercedes car a maiden testing spin and the 42-year-old seven-time world champion was very pleased with what he had gleaned after a fastest time of 1:16.450 over 14 laps.
“I really appreciated the day, even if we were only able to complete a few laps,” said Schumacher, whose much heralded return to competition last season saw him struggle and fail to get on the podium once.
“One could assess it as being interesting but short! It was really above all to check some of the systems.
“But at the end of the day, I am very happy with the launching of our new baby.
“And I am really impatient for the season to start.”
The first race of the season is the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 13.
1. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull) 1 minute 13.769 seconds (93 laps)
2. Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Force India) 1:13.938 (71)
3. Gary Paffett (GBR/McLaren) 1:14.292 (90)
4. Paul di Resta (GBR/Force India) 1:14.461 (28)
5. Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari) 1:14.553 (93)
6. Kamui Kobayashi (JPN/Sauber) 1:15.621 (64)
7. Jerome D’Ambrosio (BEL/Virgin) 1:16.003 (71)
8. Vitaly Petrov (RUS/Renault) 1:16.351 (26)
9. Michael Schumacher (GER/Mercedes) 1:16.450 (14)
10. Jaime Alguersuari (ESP/Toro Rosso) 1:17.214 (20)
11. Rubens Barrichello (BRA/Williams) 1:17.335 (77)
12. Narain Karthikeyan (IND/Hispania) 1:18.020 (45)
13. Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes) 1:19.930 (8)