Formula One: Vettel leaves partying Hamilton in his wake

Sebastian Vettel set Ferrari's hopes for the 2017 Formula One season soaring by blitzing the fastest time seen in pre-season testing in Barcelona on Thursday.

The German four-time world champion clocked 1min 19.024 despite appearing to ease off in the third sector of his fastest lap.

"Reports indicate that #Seb5 backed off: could he have set a 1m18s time? The fun and games have well and truly started!" tyre manufacturer Pirelli tweeted.

Worryingly for three-time defending champions Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton was three tenths slower on the same ultrasoft tyre compound used by Vettel.

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.