Lewis Hamilton is convinced Ferrari have reduced the gap to Mercedes since the end of last season.
The two teams ran different plans in pre-season testing, making it difficult to compare what gains the two might have made. But Hamilton, speaking at a Mercedes event in Stuttgart, said the Italian team’s pace had been “impressive” during the eight days of running at the Circuit de Catalunya.
“Ferrari have caught up,” said Hamilton when assessing his chances of the retaining the championship he won in the last two seasons, “and Nico [Rosberg] is always a strong opponent”.
“I believe that we have a good car, but Ferrari were posting some impressive times during the tests – both on the fast laps and on longer runs. We are certainly in for a good fight, but after all that’s exactly what everyone wants.”
Rosberg also said Ferrari “looked very strong in testing” but added Mercedes “don’t yet know where we stand compared to the opposition”.
Ferrari set the fastest time during pre-season testing with Kimi Raikkonen’s lap of 1’22.765. The best time for Mercedes, set on soft tyres, was 0.257s slower. However Mercedes covered far greater mileage.
“I never thought that we would be driving quite so many kilometres in preparation,” said Hamilton. “We were with the team yesterday and congratulated everyone involved on this great Silver Arrow.”
2016 F1 season
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- F1’s TV audience decline stopped in 2016
- Brawn among key F1 hires announced by Liberty
- Has F1 hit ‘peak penalties’? Fewer sanctions in 2016
- Brundle reveals Monaco GP heart attack