Ahead of his final afternoon of Formula 1 preseason testing, reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton has warned that Mercedes are lagging behind Ferrari by what could be as much as half a second.
While Ferrari have strutted their stuff throughout testing, Mercedes have appeared to keep their powder dry but it turns out that chassis issues with the W10 does indeed have the Silver Arrows camp worried.
Valtteri Bottas has twice highlighted problems with the car, which was refreshingly candid so early on in the season, but his teammate Hamilton backs him up.
During an interview with Sky F1 on Friday, Hamilton said of the difference to the Reds on day seven of testing, “I think the gap is potentially half a second. Ferrari are the fastest. This is going to be the toughest battle yet. We don’t know because everyone has different engine modes and fuel loads.”
“Ferrari’s pace is very, very good at the moment. The challenge is going to be harder than ever. It will be four races before we really know where we stand. We don’t obviously have a lot of time, but over this week we will hopefully gain another tenth just with our understanding of the car.”
Hamilton pointed to the fact that the W10 has over one thousand laps on its odometer, almost five Grand Prix distances, “The car is kind of old now, it’s worn and torn, so we will have new components, all that stuff will come along.”
“We really won’t know because everyone has different power modes and fuel loads, so Melbourne will be the first time you get a sight of it and it’s a good four races before you know just where you stand.”
“We don’t mind a challenge. We’ve got a hill to climb but we know how to do it,” he acknowledged but refuted suggestions that the team plans to change the concept of the W10, but said Ferrari may have right philosophy.
Hamilton was speaking in Barcelona not long after teammate Valtteri Bottas had hit 1:16.561, but the reigning champion dismissed the relevance of closing the gap.
“Testing is testing. There’s no reward for being quick in Testing,” added the five-time Formula 1 World Champion.
On the morning that Hamilton was speaking to reporters teammate, Valtteri Bottas set the second fastest time, three tenths shy of Sebastian Vettel’s effort at the lunch break in Barcelona.