Sunday February 24, 2013
Hamilton steers Mercedes to fastest time on final day test
BARCELONA: Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time on the final day of Formula One testing on Friday, but the cold, damp weather played havoc with teams’ hopes of collecting reliable data.
Former world champion Hamilton drove his Mercedes to a best time of 1:23.282 off a modest total of 52 laps, a time set in the more favourable morning conditions.
Hamilton’s former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button was second fastest with 1:23.633 while Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne was third best with 1:24.071.
“The conditions today meant that we didn’t complete as many laps we would have done in the dry but we have gone through the test items that we wanted to achieve this week,” said Hamilton.
“We have been working on our consistency over long runs and we managed one run this morning on dry tyres; the car felt okay but the conditions were also very cool, so we cannot draw too many conclusions.
“Like I said in Jerez, I can feel that we have a good foundation with this car but there is still a lot to learn and we know that the name of the game is to improve our downforce.
“I think people are talking us up at the moment. (Sebastian) Vettel, and maybe Fernando (Alonso), were saying I’m maybe going to be competing for the world championship, but I really don’t see that happening at the moment.
“Of course that’s our goal, but you have to remember the car was over a second off (the pace), sometimes two seconds off, last year and we’ve not caught up a second. Hopefully by the end of the year, that’s our goal, but definitely not at the beginning.”
Hamilton had gotten off to a rough start with his new team in testing at the Jerez track earlier this month when a brake failure sent him straight into the barrier.
Now it appears that both he and Nico Rosberg are adjusting well to the car. Rosberg clocked the fastest lap time during Tuesday’s session.
“Nico and Lewis are becoming more familiar with the car and its behaviour as each day progresses, and Lewis is settling into the team very well,” said Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn.
“We now have just four days of testing left until the first race in Australia, and a lot of work will be done before we return to Barcelona next week.”
Pre-season testing returns to north-eastern Spain from Feb 28-March 3 before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 17.
Mexico’s Sergio Perez, who has succeeded Hamilton at McLaren, had the honour of the week’s best time — 1:21.848 set on Wednesday.
Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado did not complete a lap as the team concentrated on pit stops.
“This morning we were focusing on pit stop practice and despite the weather we were able to achieve a lot,” said Bottas.
“The key things to work on as a driver are braking as late as possible for the pit-lane speed limit to minimise the time lost, perfecting your positioning in the box and finally pulling away quickly and cleanly.” — Agencies