Lewis Hamilton is cautiously optimistic over how his new Mercedes car performed at Formula One’s opening test in Barcelona.
He completed 69 laps and managed to set the fastest time of the week (1:19.333). The four-times world champion spent the first three days indoors due to the snow which prompted Hamilton to complain about the track, calling it a “waste of money”.
This meant the grid’s ten teams completed 600 less laps in total for the opening week of this pre-season compared to 2017 due to snow and rain affecting four days of running. Hamilton was among the many who had his test one running affected by poor conditions, but with the weather forecasted to improve he commented: “Hopefully we’ll get plenty of running.”
“Ultimately this week there was questions of whether or not we should be in Bahrain, where firstly the weather is always good and you can test all day long, so you can get a lot of testing done because the sun goes into the evening.
“But I like being here in Barcelona. It’s a beautiful city so hopefully the good weather comes.”
On Thursday Hamilton managed to get a feel for how his new ride, the WO9, was performing as the track reached over 25C.
He said: “I was really happy to get out, great to get on it,” he said. “To get a feel for the new car and so far it is positive. I’ve only had 60 laps but it definitely feels like a better car than last year.”
Hamilton acknowledged the test marked the start of his goal to claim a fifth title. He commented: “My mindset is really about learning as much as we can and being as consistent and diligent as you can with the laps you do get, but of course this is all foundations, building blocks for the title fight.”
Sebastien Vettel capitalised on the improved conditions by completing 120 laps. He was the third fastest racer – nine-tenths behind Hamilton. Vettel was enthusiastic to insist his rivals had the early advantage.
He said: “I think Mercedes is the favourite. If we can be close, very close, closer than last year, that would be great, and then we see from there. It’s been a long time from here until the end of the season.”