Vettel: Mercedes are favourites for the title

F1 testing

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With AP Photos.Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes leads the fourth day of Formula One tests when teams make up for the lost time caused by bad weather. Thursday's total was the most number of laps completed by Honda in a single day of testing since returning to F1 in 2015 - surpassing its previous best of 121 with McLaren - and Toro Rosso ended with a total of 324 laps over the four days.

Vandoorne's time on the softest tyre, set following a flurry of activity as everybody switched to slicks, was good enough to hold on for second on the day, half a second down on Hamilton. Alonso hinted at this on day one after he suffered a wheel-nut failure, pointing out that his issue, which saw him spear off into the gravel, was obvious while others were less so.

Sebastian Vettel has said Mercedes are "favourites" for both World titles in 2018, but that will not stop Ferrari realising their own title ambitions.

Hamilton, he said, also had weaknesses but he preferred to focus on himself rather than trying to get under the skin of his teammate.

Carlos Sainz thinks Mercedes and Ferrari will continue to battle at the front in 2018.

"It's difficult coming to a new team and learning new ways, new controls and now he's gone through the whole learning process and he's going to hit the ground running".

"But we have no idea where people are", he added.

"The last four races last year helped to get to know everyone [at Renault] and to give my feedback regarding last year's car", he said.

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Finally, Sauber - with the backing of Alfa Romeo - have signed the highly-rated 20-year-old Charles Leclerc to partner Marcus Ericsson of Sweden for the new campaign. Or you have to set the car up to deal with it better in terms of ride.

Seanspeed: Parity. So bigger teams can't go testing at ideal locations, getting better information and more running than smaller teams stuck in Europe with more problems. Force India completed the fewest laps, just behind Haas.

Noikeee: It was a giant anomaly, it never snows at the track.

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, the only driver to post a time on Wednesday, was fifth-fastest after running 51 laps with McLaren.

"Do I expect him to be closer?".

Mercedes F1 team executive Toto Wolff says Valtteri Bottas has "no excuses" this year as he pushes for a new Mercedes contract. This round, though, he hopes to be the one on top come time for the season finale in Japan. You just want to make sure the car is running.

"But it's a long year".

Aside from the ever-present challenge up top for the Constructors' Title, Red Bull will also be preoccupied with internal endeavors including Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo this season.

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