Hamilton hails productive test

Published: Wednesday 4th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Lewis Hamilton hailed Mercedes’ first pre-season test ahead of the new Formula One season as “pretty special” after the team sent the lap counter into a frenzy in Jerez this week.

On a day when Hamilton’s private life was again brought into focus, the 30-year-old brushed his latest break-up with on-off celebrity girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger aside by pounding out the miles.

A spin when the circuit was damp after having just fitted slick tyres was the only blot on Hamilton’s copybook , but the reigning champion still racked up 117 laps and 208 overall for his two days behind the wheel of the W06-Hybrid.

Throw in team-mate Nico Rosberg’s 308 laps and Mercedes have amassed 516 overall for a grand total of 2,285 kilometres (1,419 miles), the equivalent of travelling from London to Kiev in the Ukraine.

To put that into further context, the number of laps is one more than the combined total for two of their biggest rivals in Ferrari (349) and Red Bull (166).

“Paddy (Lowe, technical executive director) just said it has been the highest week of mileage,” said Hamilton.

“That’s a surprise for us all. Nico had good days with over 150 laps on each and I averaged 100 laps, so it’s great to see the work put in by all the guys in the garage.

“We’ve put some decent mileage on the car this week and although you always want more, the reliability has been pretty special.”

All media were warned before interviewing Hamilton that any questions on his split with Scherzinger were off limits otherwise it would lead to the immediate cessation of the press briefings.

Unlike in the past when Hamilton has worn his heart on his sleeve and appeared forlorn, on this occasion there was no outward sign of heart break.

For the Briton, it was just another day in his office, with lap time irrelevant as not once has a Mercedes been top of the standings on any of the four days.

On the final day in Jerez, Hamilton was third quickest behind Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.

Raikkonen’s lap of one minute 20.841secs was the quickest this week, with the Finn also racking up the laps with 106 in total, narrowly behind Ericsson, who managed 112, and Hamilton.

Concluding a positive test for Ferrari, who finished out in front on three of the four days, Raikkonen said: “The times don’t mean much.

“The lap time can be anything, but we’ve a good amount of laps and things are working, we’re not really having many issues, just a few small things.

“That’s the main thing, so the feeling is pretty fine which is good.”

Toro Rosso’s rookie 17-year-old Max Verstappen managed a positive 97 laps as he continues to build ahead of becoming the youngest driver to take part in a grand prix on March 15 in Australia.

Williams’ Felipe Massa, who hailed Mercedes as “amazing”, was 2.2secs down in fifth, managing only 73 laps, but with no issues.

Lotus’ Romain Grosjean was beaming after his first outing for Lotus, now powered by a Mercedes system after the team ditched Renault at the end last year, describing himself as “a happy driver again”.

The Frenchman completed 53 laps prior to a technical glitch bringing his day to a mid-afternoon end, with Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat seventh fastest after encountering a problem with the ERS (energy recovery system) early on.

Jenson Button, who only managed six laps on his first outing on Monday in his new McLaren that now has a Honda power unit, eked 35 second time around.

In total McLaren have completed just 79 laps over the four days, and a staggering 1,762 kilometres less than Mercedes.

Despite that, engineering director Matt Morris has no doubt the team are heading in the right direction.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had a few issues this week – all of which have been pretty small – but cumulatively they meant we were stuck in the garage for quite some time,” said Morris.

“Still, our prime objective coming away from this test was to ascertain the main car architecture worked, and we’ve done that.

“Additionally, Jenson’s been able to give Honda some really good feedback. He’s been constantly providing analysis after every run.

“We head to Barcelona hopeful of further refining and developing the package.”

Published: Wednesday 4th February 2015 by The News Editor

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