Sebastian Vettel feels the difference between Pirelli’s 2018 and 2019 Formula 1 tyre compounds are “quite small,” believing a shift in the Italian manufacturer’s race weekend selections would have a bigger impact for next year.

Vettel set the pace for Ferrari during the first day of post-season testing in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, completing 69 laps as teams completed collective running using Pirelli’s 2019 compounds.

Vettel explained after the session how he felt only minor differences compared to the 2018 compounds, and added that he believed the tyre range would be brought closer together for next season.

“The differences were quite small,” Vettel said.

“Speaking to Pirelli I think the whole band is a little bit closer together, so the Hypersoft is more towards the rest, and the Hard tyre – which we didn’t use – should be more towards the rest of the tyres that are softer.

“We’ll see what are the tyre choices for next year. That’ll be the biggest thing to look forward to, which tracks Pirelli has decided to bring which compound, because that can make more difference than maybe the step now from ‘18 to ‘19.”

Vettel was hopeful that 2019 teammate Charles Leclerc would be able to gain a more thorough understanding of next year’s tyres when he tests on Wednesday, having lost running due to some minor issues and after a small crash at Turn 1 midway through the day.

“Unfortunately we had some small issues today, and took a bit more caution and time to change the broken parts. Nothing big, but we lost a bit of time,” Vettel said.

“No huge surprises. The tyres seem to work, seem to be fairly similar, we got a lot of data, now we need to have a look.

“I would have liked to do a little bit more, especially longer runs, so we missed a little bit of that. I think Charles will get hopefully more track time tomorrow and some more answers.”

Vettel’s thoughts on the tyre compounds were echoed by Lando Norris, who completed over two race distances for McLaren at Yas Marina.

“None were hugely different,” Norris said of the compounds. “Balance-wise, nothing really seemed to change. Obviously we felt a few things, but I probably shouldn’t say exactly…

“But there were a couple of differences. They weren’t exactly the same, some were a tiny bit better, some a tiny bit worse. Nothing too dramatic."

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