Tuesday February 26, 2013
Mercedes’ Hamilton plays down chances in title hunt this season
LONDON: Lewis Hamilton is playing down claims he will be in the world title hunt this year.
Long-time rivals Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso both say the Briton will be a force at his new team Mercedes.
But Hamilton said: “We’re being talked up. I don’t see us going for the title at the moment.”
The 2008 world champion topped the standings on the final day of Formula One’s second pre-season test at Barcelona.
But his time of 1:23.282 was relatively meaningless as it was set on medium compound tyres between rain showers.
It was 1.4s adrift of the week’s fastest time, set by his replacement at McLaren, Mexican Sergio Perez.
Hamilton said: “Vettel and maybe Fernando were saying I’m maybe going to be competing for the world championship.
“Of course that’s our goal.
“But you have to remember the car was over a second off, sometimes two seconds off, last year and we’ve not caught up a second.
“Other teams will also have gained a second over the winter, so we’ve not caught up three seconds, that’s a fact.”
Despite Hamilton’s caution, his new Mercedes appears within striking distance of Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Lotus.
He said: “The downforce isn’t great but we have some updates. The car is probably not the quickest but it’s not slow, that’s for sure.
“So I don’t think there should be a reason not to succeed.
“Sometimes people lose their way and it takes a group of people to try and put the train back on its tracks.
“We’ve lots of great people here who have been doing that and we’re now rolling in the right direction.”
However his team-mate Nico Rosberg is adamant Mercedes are moving forward and have resolved their rear tyres issues from last season.
Mercedes’ efforts in 2012 were at times undone as their rear tyres lit up, prompting the team to pit earlier than their rivals.
This year, though, Rosberg believes the team has found a solution in their W04.
“The car is definitely a big step forward,” he told Formula1.com.
“It feels very nice to drive with a good balance.
“It is a massive step.
“Take the rear. We had massive problems with tyre heating and losing grip and all that. That seems to be history now.
“And that is really a massive change.” — Agencies