Ferrari "looking great" admits Hamilton


As ever, Mercedes refuses to play ball. While the rest go for impressive times, the German team goes about its business with typical German attention to detail and precision.

The softest of compounds will not be touched until late next week - if then - while the impressive stuff can wait for Melbourne, though the world champions might well throw the media - and their rivals - a tantalising bone before then.

Currently, Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc are the Barcelona pace-setters, but that was the case last year also, albeit with Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari. The Italian team went on to win the first two races, but at season end, when it mattered, the Silver Arrows and Lewis Hamilton still reigned.

Speaking to reporters on the third day of testing, Hamilton admitted that the Ferrari looks fast and consistent, but didn't appear unduly concerned that his reign is coming to an end.

"I don't think you can put a figure on it, but Ferrari are very, very strong right now, as you have seen," said the Briton. "They are racking up great mileage as well, so it appears they have a better package than they had last year. It means it will be even more of a challenge for us this year.

"For us we are just digging deep trying to understand the car," he continued, "pretty much the same as the beginning of every year.

"The Ferraris always particularly look strong, particularly in the last few years, they have looked strong right at the beginning. So, that is to be expected," he admitted. "For us we are just going about our process. Everyone is working extremely hard so it has been normal.

"We let everyone else do their thing and try to focus, really dig deep, and try to make sure our processes are better than ever before. Making sure we are analysing the data, better than ever before, and the delivery from the drivers' point of view. The feedback that I give, make sure it is more accurate than it has ever been before. That is what I will try to focus on, and we are trying to focus on. Making sure we get through our run plans. We will have a better idea I guess this time next week whereabouts we stand.

"Right now we are competing against our past selves as a team," he continued. "We are really trying to raise the bar in all those areas, and all the engineers back at the factory are raising the bar. It has been super impressive to see the atmosphere within the team after all these years of success that we have had. To see that the hunger is still there. To see that the drive is still there.

"No one is phasing out. No one is backing off. Everyone is pushing full steam ahead. It has been a difficult winter for the guys back at the factory. I can see it and I've heard from the guys, probably the most difficult one with the rule change once again, but if anyone can do it I truly believe it is my guys.

"We are the only team to have won a championship in a cross-over of a rule and I am confident that even if we don't start on the right foot, particularly by the first race, I feel confident," he concluded, his grin a clear warning shot across the bows of Ferrari, Red Bull et al.

Check out our Wednesday gallery from Barcelona, here.

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Published: 20/02/2019
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