Leclerc: Ferrari's rivals are sandbagging

Kvyat fastest, Ricciardo 3rd in F1 testing

McLaren, whose performance has been encouraging over the first two days, missed the first two hours after what they described as "some overnight changes" to the vehicle but managed to get Spaniard Carlos Sainz out for 27 laps before lunch. "For us it's been just digging deep, trying to understand the vehicle, Pretty much the same as the beginning of every year".

But he admitted it was a challenge to make the step up from mid-grid Sauber, where he made his debut past year, to Ferrari.

Things were far from flawless for Mercedes in the first week of pre-season testing as the team struggled with an inconsistently handling W10 according to Valtteri Bottas. "I got used to it very quickly", he said.

The highly-regarded 21-year-old Monegasque starts his first season with the Italian giants after leaving Sauber to replace Kimi Raikkonen, who was the last man to win a drivers' world title with Ferrari in 2007.

Mercedes are going into the 2019 season with history on their mind. "It seems like Ferrari are in a better place".

"Time will tell", assured Lewis Hamilton at the pre-season test in Barcelona.

"We don't know how much the others are sandbagging, so we'll see at the first race".

Hamilton, with a new two-year deal that will earn him GBP40 million (USD52 million) a season, is buzzing after the winter recess. We're not just disappointed.

Champion Mercedes continued to keep its powder dry, with Finland's Valtteri Bottas the slowest of the nine cars on track but doing more laps than anyone else - 88 to Vettel's 80, both on the same medium C3 tyre.

"I think that yesterday they could probably have gone 1.5 seconds faster if they wanted to, and that is the fastest auto we have seen in testing so far".

"We've been making progress throughout the entire week, the vehicle felt better every single day".

Perhaps the biggest change to F1 this season will be seen after the season has begun. "But he's obviously very talented and mostly likely he's going to surprise many people". Leclerc and Vettel will once again share driving duties, getting two days of running each, before attention turns to the first race in Australia on 17 March.

"But it would be a disruption and it would cause all the United Kingdom teams a lot of headache, while Ferrari in Italy and Sauber (Alfa Romeo) in Switzerland would have a massive advantage over every UK-based team".

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