Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton reckons Mercedes have serious fight on its hands as Red Bull and Ferrari seem to have closed in on the team which enjoyed supreme form and dominance over the last three seasons.
Mercedes showed a low-profile winter testing period in its own standards. They experienced a few niggling issues with the setup of the W08, some development parts and even a couple of reliability issues hampered their usually faultless work.
However, it was the team which completed the most testing milage and the squad which spectacularly completed a race simulation on the second day of testing. While many still envisage a Mercedes-dominated or at least –controlled season, Hamilton tries to put pressure off the shoulders of his team.
“It’s been a busy winter for us. I don’t remember how it was last year but this felt like a good couple of weeks. We’re working together better than ever as a team and Valtteri has done great to blend in and do a solid job.”
“We’ve had our up and down days with the car, learnt a lot from that and made plenty of changes. I’m happy with what we’ve gained knowledge-wise and feel confident we got everything we needed from this test to go out and fight in Melbourne."
Asked about the rivals, Hamilton praised the work done by Ferrari, but he also expects Red Bull to make further steps forwards before the curtain falls for the first time in two weeks’ time.
“The others seem quick, so it looks like we have a good battle on our hands. Ferrari have been doing a fantastic job. I think there’s more to come from them but their pace here has really been spectacular. I don’t know if Red Bull had their full package here. Usually they bring that to the first race but they’re definitely still up there and I expect a serious fight with both of those teams.”
The triple world champion admitted he might lose the dominant form of his team, but that would only be a benefit for fans who wish to see close on-track battles.
“I’ve never wished to dominate. Of course, I want a car that I can go out and fight for a Championship with – but for the fans it’s best when there’s multiple teams fighting for it.”