Hamilton: Changes we were making helped us progress

In the wake of 2019 Formula 1 preseason testing coming to an end on Friday, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton is confident that Mercedes are “heading in the right direction” ahead of the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix on March 17.

Mercedes were more subdued than ever in the first test, but their drivers were not fully comfortable in the tricky W10. The team then arrived for the second preseason test with an extensively revised car and only had a stab at hot laps on the final two days in Spain.

Hamilton, who claimed that the Reds were half a second ahead, came within a mere 0.003 of a second of  Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel fastest time on the final day of testing, capping a thorough second week of running at the Circuit de Catalunya for the Silver Arrows.

The W10 was the clear champion chassis in terms of race pace mileage, with Hamilton and Bittas in the cockpit they combined to rack up 1189 laps of the Spanish Grand Prix venue, equivalent to 18 race distances over eight days.

It also proved to be handy at speed, revealed by a late stint by Hamilton on soft rubber and chasing times he ended second fastest by the narrowest of margins. The consensus in the paddock is that the Champs have more to unleash in their package.

All will be revealed when they really turn it on for when it matters, qualifying in Australia on Saturday afternoon Down Under on 16 March.

Speaking after his final stint in the car, Hamilton reported, “The last couple of days have been very positive. It felt like the changes we were making helped us progress and gave us clear feedback of when we were moving in the right or the wrong direction.”

“Even so, there is still a lot to do, and we are not there yet. There are lots of areas that we’re working on, and we’re heading in the right direction.”

Meanwhile, teammate Valtteri Bottas believes the competition will be as fierce as ever in Melbourne at the opening round of the 2019 season on 14-17 March.

“We’ve used our time on track here in Barcelona efficiently,” Bottas said. “[We’ve been] learning a lot and improving our performance over the past two weeks. The competition is going to be very, very tough this year, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.

“We need to keep pushing and find more performance if we want to be competitive in Melbourne, but we have a strong team and have made good progress in the last days.”

Bottas and Hamilton are aiming to end Vettel’s recent dominance of the Australian Grand Prix, the German having won the past two years in Melbourne.

“The next time we’ll drive the W10, it will be in Melbourne. We have a few days left to work on the car, so we will give it everything. I’m looking forward to Melbourne,” added Bottas.

Barcelona F1 Test Day 7: Leclerc sets fastest time so far