FERRARI leapfrogged Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton as they took the very early bragging rights as the first half of the opening test concluded.

Sebastian Vettel set a benchmark of 1:24.939, pipping World Champion Hamilton by 0.470s, although the Brackley based giants (below) did complete the most laps, standing at 66 compared to the Italian side’s 36.

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The whole field underlined the improved reliability of the V6 hybrid power units, completing over 300 laps compared to less than 100 two years ago.

Silverstone’s Force India squad with young Mexican Alfonso Celis Jr at the wheel sit ninth fastest of the 11 runners, with a time of 1:29.406 completing 21 laps during the morning running.

Manor Racing based in nearby Banbury completed the fewest laps of the teams, with just eight laps by new signing Pascal Wehrlein, with a fastest time of 1:33.455 putting him bottom of the pile and eight and half seconds off of four-time World Champion, Vettel’s early benchmark.

Testing resumes at 1pm GMT with a further four hours of running for the 11 cars hoping to gain valuable data, with only eight days worth of running prior to the season curtain raiser at Albert Park, Melbourne on March 20.