Lewis Hamilton only managed fifth on his final run during 2017’s testing, five thousandths of a second down on team-mate Valtteri Bottas in fourth; the Brit was on the Ultrasoft compounds compared to the Finn on the Soft.
During his 54 laps, the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver worked towards analysing and finalising the car’s balance in time for the first race in Melbourne. The past two weeks has also assisted with introducing Bottas to the team in a race-like environment.
“It’s been a busy winter for us,” he said. “I don’t remember how it was last year but this felt like a good couple of weeks. We’re working together better than ever as a team and Valtteri has done great to blend in and do a solid job.
“We’ve had our up and down days with the car, learnt a lot from that and made plenty of changes. I’m happy with what we’ve gained knowledge-wise and feel confident we got everything we needed from this test to go out and fight in Melbourne.”
Unlike last year when Mercedes boasted a visible performance advantage over the other teams, it is Scuderia Ferrari who has dominated on the track with Kimi Raikkonen topping the times today (10 March) and Sebastian Vettel yesterday (9 March). Red Bull Racing has also looked competitive. Hamilton sounded excited at the prospect of on-track competition.
“The others seem quick, so it looks like we have a good battle on our hands. Ferrari have been doing a fantastic job,” he added. “I think there’s more to come from them but their pace here has really been spectacular.
“I don’t know if Red Bull had their full package here. Usually they bring that to the first race but they’re definitely still up there and I expect a serious fight with both of those teams.
“I’ve never wished to dominate. Of course, I want a car that I can go out and fight for a Championship with – but for the fans it’s best when there’s multiple teams fighting for it.”