Vettel crash delays Ferrari on day six of Formula One testing

MONTMELO, Spain -- Sebastian Vettel crashed out of the sixth day of pre-season testing, scuppering Ferrari's plans to set more headline-grabbing times on Wednesday.

Vettel, who was unhurt, went off after damage to the wheel rim by a foreign object caused him to lose control on the approach to Turn 3. The German driver applied heavy brakes but went straight on, over the gravel trap and into the wall.

His car was lifted onto a flatbed truck and brought back to the pit-lane under a red cover, but it was clear the impact with the wall had left severe damage to the front of the car.

When asked if he knew what caused the crash, Vettel said: "Well not much more than everyone knows.

"Obviously inside the car I was going into Turn 3 and I had a feeling there was an issue with the front-left corner and then from there it wasn't anything that I could have done to avoid the impact. After that I wasn't in control anymore and went straight into the barriers.

"We are flat-out trying to understand, it would be a lot easier if there was a lot of run-off and the car didn't hit anything because now due to the hit it's fairly damaged. We have to be very careful in understanding exactly what is the problem. That is what everyone is looking at here at the track and also in Maranello. It's important to us.

"We covered a lot of mileage last week but surely the plan is always to fulfill your programme. We had more laps on the board than 40 this morning so for sure it is not ideal in that we are losing time.

"But right now it is important to understand what happened. I hit the wall quite strongly and I think the Tecpro and the wall did their job and the car did its job but of course after the impact the car was very damaged. That's what also makes it quite difficult to reconstruct what was going on before the impact."

Vettel's crash occurred shortly after 11 a.m. local time, with two hours remaining until the lunch break. The time either side of lunch is traditionally when Ferrari focuses on its qualifying and race simulations during the second week of testing, the parts of pre-season which give the best indication of each car's raw performance over short long runs.

Shortly before lunch, Ferrari confirmed it anticipated to be delayed for at least a few hours while it worked on the car. As it did on Tuesday, Ferrari planned to alternate its drivers in either session, meaning new 2019 arrival Charles Leclerc is slated to step in the afternoon if the red car makes it back on the circuit. Given the extent of the damage to the car, he might not be appearing until much later in the day.

Ferrari has been the standout team from testing so far, with its headline times in the opening week leaving reigning world champions feeling rattled and admitting the Italians hold the edge. Testing continues on Thursday and Friday, with the season beginning at Melbourne's Australian Grand Prix on March 17.