Monday March 4, 2013
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton breaks Barcelona track record
BARCELONA: Lewis Hamilton fired a warning to his Formula One rivals after posting a blistering lap time during Saturday’s testing session in Barcelona.
He laid down an impressive marker ahead of the new season on Saturday when he set the best time on the third day of testing with his Mercedes thriving in the dry conditions.
The Brit has been playing down his chances of winning a single race this season – let alone fighting for the title – after joining Mercedes.
But he clocked a lap of 1:20.558 – over a second quicker than when he qualified here last year and smashed the track record set in 2008 by Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton’s super-quick time comes after his former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button tipped his countryman his success this season.
Hamilton said: “I’m very, very happy on a lot of things. If your car’s good here it should be good at a lot of places throughout the year.
“Mercedes are doing a great job, both with the engine and the car. It’s obviously a lot better than it was last year.
“The reliability is good. The baseline where we’re working from is good. We’re not in deep, deep trouble. We’re going in the right way.
“But I wouldn’t say I’m completely satisfied. If I felt I had a rocket underneath me maybe but I have a good foundation to work on.
“The pressure is now on all the other guys who have great cars which have evolved into this year’s car.
“The pressure is on them to compete and perform. As for us, we only have everything to gain.”
Despite his blistering pace on Saturday, Hamilton insisted he would not be getting carried away by the performance of the Mercedes, cautious of rivals Red Bull and Ferrari still yet to show their hand.
“Whilst we’ve been focusing on our own performance, we definitely haven’t seen the full potential of our competitors, so it’s difficult to predict where we might be. A lot will be said in Melbourne” he said.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Italian driver Davide Valsecchi stepped up from his reserve role with Lotus to make his debut when former world champion Raikkonen opted out of the session through illness.
Valsecchi, the second-tier GP2 world champion last season, was only informed of his surprise opportunity at just before 9am on Saturday.
He managed only 16 laps in the morning session before passing the driving duties to Romain Grosjean, who had set the best time on Friday. — Agencies