Lewis Hamilton admits he is pleased to see his former team McLaren close to his pace during the first pre-season Formula 1 test in Spain.
The final day of the opening test offered the best conditions of the week, with warmer temperatures and a dry track in the afternoon replacing the cold spell from the opening three days. Hamilton drove for Mercedes in the afternoon and duly set the fastest time of the week, ending up just over half a second clear of Stoffel Vandoorne in second place.
Asked if it was nice to see a McLaren next to him at the top of the timing screens, Hamilton – who drove for the team from 2007-2012 – replied: “Of course.
“I saw Fernando [Alonso] posted a picture of the car and I think the car looks fantastic with a nice color again. I didn’t have very positive things to say about the look of it last year, so it is great. One of my friends messaged me saying did I like the car this year and I said yes, it looks great.
“It is how McLaren should look as a top team – and while they’ve had some difficult years it is back to a great-looking car. Usually a great-looking car is generally quite quick so I hope that is the case for them and I hope they are more in the mix this year.”
Having posted the fastest time of the test himself – using medium tires – Hamilton says the early signs are promising for Mercedes.
“It definitely will and I think it will be the same for everyone, naturally, as it is an evolution of last year’s car. We’ve got better tires, and particularly here we’ve got a new surface, so that might make things seem even better than perhaps it really is.
“So far it has been good and I was really happy to get out today, to be honest. I’m one that doesn’t like testing but today I was really keen to get out because we haven’t had many laps, so it was great to get out to get a feel for the tires and the warm-up process and try to stretch the legs a little bit on the new car. So far it is positive.”
Mercedes also ended the first test with the second-highest mileage, completing 306 laps. Only Toro Rosso managed more, with 324.