The Mercedes-AMG team remained in Spain after their dominant 1-2 finish on Sunday to complete two days of testing, with Lewis Hamilton running on Tuesday and Nico Rosberg on Wednesday. Hamilton’s runs were focused on set-up, engine management and aerodynamic evaluations, while Rosberg focused on more aero work, braking and control system evaluations and a trial of a ‘megaphone’ exhaust that had the intention of making the car sound louder.
Hamilton ran 79 laps around the Circuit de Catalunya and finished third fastest behind Max Chilton’s Marussia and Charles Pic’s Lotus. He was by far the fastest driver not to run either the supersoft or soft tyre.
“We completed a lot of practice starts and tried a few different things with the car during the afternoon once the track dried out a bit,” said Hamilton on Tuesday. “Of course, test days aren’t as much fun as a race but it’s part of the job. It’s important for the team and it’s also been productive for me in terms of getting the car where I want it after struggling at times last weekend.
“Conditions were obviously very different but we got some dry running in and I felt happier with the car by the end of the day. Every lap you do in the car you learn a little bit more and these in-season tests are useful given the limited running time we have. Although we have a good advantage right now, the moment we stand still our rivals will be ready to pounce so we have to stay on our toes at all times.
“I’ve got a busy week leading up to Monaco but I’ll be doing some work back at the factory before that weekend. It’s a massively demanding circuit and with the oversteer moments created by the extra torque from the cars this year we’ll have to watch our proximity to the walls much more closely. Every driver loves going to Monaco and I’m aiming to keep up the positive momentum from the last four races.”
Rosberg completed 102 laps of the track to finish the day second fastest behind the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado, but whereas the Lotus ran the supersoft tyre for his best time, Rosberg’s best time was on the medium tyre.
“Days like today are so valuable as you can’t really test anything effectively during a race weekend,” said Rosberg on Wednesday. “No one run is the same as another, whereas here you can keep certain variables stable and properly compare things back-to-back.
“Everyone was talking about the exhaust but to be honest I didn’t notice much difference in the sound. Of course, we’re happy to try these things if that’s what the FIA and the fans want us to do. But perhaps this was not the right solution.
“One of the main things we looked at was braking. This is an area where I haven’t felt 100% happy yet this year, so we’re continuously assessing ways to improve on that. We also worked on starts as this has been a bit of a weakness for the team this season. It’s not easy as it’s such a sophisticated procedure and there are some highly complex parts involved like the clutch, for example. But we definitely learned some interesting things. Other than that it was the usual set-up and engine management work that you’d expect at a test.
“Our aim is to keep increasing any advantage we can find over our rivals and the team is doing a great job of that. Of course, Monaco is up next and that’s a very different, special race. But our car is strong in all areas and I see no reason why we won’t be just as competitive there.”