Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team rounded out their week of pre-season testing today with a 1-2 on the timesheets, as Lewis Hamilton took the lead with a 1:19.138 and George Russell followed behind with a 1:19.233.
Hamilton and Russell were two of only three drivers today to set their best lap on C5 tyres, which are typically the fastest compound around one lap. In response to the competitive result, Russell emphasised that times aren’t a reliable indicator of performance.
“The three days in Barcelona have been incredibly intriguing. I don’t think the lap times are very representative at all, we were top of the timesheets today on the C5 compound which is incredibly strong around Barcelona, but I wouldn’t read much into it.”
Russell gave his insight as to where future improvements lie based on the experimentation done throughout the week, adding that McLaren and Ferrari– each having topped the timesheet on Wednesday and Thursday respectively– appear to be performing at a high level.
“The Ferrari and McLaren look strong and I think we’ve got lots of improvements to make, we’re not fully happy with the balance of the car and the other limitations we have currently. But it is only testing, we’re here to learn and we have made some important experiments this week and have a good idea of the direction we need to go in.”
Russell completed 66 laps in the Friday morning session, which was interrupted by several red flags, and Hamilton added 94 to the total in the afternoon. Hamilton, who drove in the artificial wet conditions of the day’s second session, said that he was pleased with the amount of running they achieved, though he’d always prefer to run more laps.
“It’s been an interesting few days, it’s not been the easiest or smoothest running – we have some obstacles to overcome. We’d always want more laps but I’m happy with today’s running, I got almost 100 laps in today which for half a day’s running, isn’t too bad. The car is a lot different to drive than in previous years, as are the tyres, but we’re working our way through our programme.”
Hamilton praised the team for the effort they put in all week long, and is motivated to put the data collected to use.
“The whole team have done an amazing job this week, the men and women back at the factory have worked so hard, we’ve got a lot of data to go through from these three days and we’ll just put one foot in front of the other and put in the work. It was good to get a feel for the different tyre compounds but you never know where you are compared to the other teams on the first days of running.”
Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin felt the team checked off the major items on their list during this week’s sessions, and that the lack of major reliability issues throughout the week had been promising.
“We’re pleased with how the week has gone, we planned a very busy programme for the three days and we managed to get through the high priority items, making good progress with the car and power unit.”
“It has taken a huge effort from the team in Brackley and Brixworth to bring the W13 to the track so it’s very satisfying for everyone to see it cover 1800km without significant issues, and to show good promise from a pace point of view.”
Work on the car will continue, Shovlin said, as the team works to fine-tune their set-up ahead of the official pre-season test taking place in Bahrain.
“We’ll be working with the drivers on the simulator over the next few days; we’ve still got work to do tuning the balance both for single lap and long run. Bahrain is a very different circuit to a cold Barcelona but hopefully we can make good progress in those areas and build on what has been a promising start to our winter testing programme.”