Lewis Hamilton clocked the fastest time on the final day of Formula 1 pre-season testing in Bahrain, and heads to the season opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne with confidence and a spring in his step as he knows that the Silver Arrows are going to be contenders in 2014.
Speaking to members of the media after his final stint in the Mercedes W05, Hamilton said, “It is good going into a season, to the first race, knowing that we have covered the most miles, we probably are one of the most put-together teams in terms of the car working, a good mileage under our belts and a happy spirit.”
The mood within the Mercedes camp is one of optimism, tempered with caution, “We are driven to fight for the championship – that all is super positive. But let’s keep the feet on the ground: right now, even if all indications look great, it is still difficult to know who is hot and who is not.”
“You go to Australia not knowing who the hell will be in the lead. Reliability will be a huge factor, for every single person in the team. For everyone,” added the 2008 F1 World Champion.
Hamilton summed up his final day of testing, “There’s a lot more to come. I did two runs on the Super-softs. The first run was not very good, part of the lap was okay but there were a few mistakes, and then the second run was terrible. But that’s just part and parcel of trying to learn how to extract the most from those tyres and now that I know there’s a whole heap more grip to come from those tyres I’ll set up the car better to extract it.”
But containing the optimism appears to be difficult for Hamilton who starts his second year as a Mercedes driver, “All I can say is that we will definitely be shooting for the top five! There was loads of stuff we could have done and we could do with another couple of weeks of testing but I’m sure that’s the same for everyone!”
Nevertheless Hamilton remains wary of Red Bull despite the problem filled pre-season for the world champions, “They look like they have a stunning car and usually the more beautiful it is, the faster it is, so I’m sure they have a fast car this year. Once they have the engine sorted they will be tough to beat…but I know my team is stronger than ever.”
The Briton also had some kind words about testing in the Middle East, “These have been my favourite tests, simply because we’ve been in Bahrain. These were the nicest two weeks I ever had in testing in terms of weather and in terms of how you’re treated and received in a country. And the track is far greater than Jerez or Barcelona. It really has been a pleasure to be here.”
Next time Hamilton drives out of the pits will be at Albert Park on 14 March, for the first free practice session of the 2014 season. (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.