Lewis Hamilton insists he is not yet worried about Mercedes’ pre-season testing performance but is far from happy with the handling of the 2021 car.
Mercedes had a tough opening day as it completed just six laps in the opening five hours due to a gearbox issue, and Hamilton ended the day struggling amid poor track conditions. While the track was in a much better state on Saturday, Hamilton had another difficult spell including a spin into the gravel that brought out the red flag. Although there is only one day remaining, Hamilton says the lack of testing that has taken place so far means he’s still not panicking.
“I mean, it’s day two of testing so we’re just focused on doing our job, so nowhere near (worried) at the moment,” Hamilton said. “Just focusing on trying to understand the car, there’s no point getting worried just yet, I think everyone is focusing on their programs and that’s what we’re doing.”
The big talking point of Saturday morning 👀
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 13, 2021
While the gearbox issue was a reliability problem, Hamilton says he is noticing a potential weakness with the rear end of the W12 in the opening two days.
“Pretty much felt the same (as Friday), not really much different today,” he added. “I think the track feels a little bit better today so the balance was perhaps slightly better but we’re still working through some things.
“Today I think the wind did a 180 so the track is a lot different. It’s very gusty, as I found out into Turn 13, the rear doesn’t feel particularly great with this new regulation change but we’re trying to find the sweet spot.”
Hamilton was speaking after handing the car over to Valtteri Bottas for the afternoon on Saturday – with his team-mate setting the fastest time late in the session on the softest tire compound – but says he has noticed the strong start Red Bull has made in particular.
“I mean, compared to the past it’s not been particular useful,” Hamilton said. “We’ve done what 60 laps or something, Valtteri’s about to go and do his first laps, so it’s not a lot compared to other test days we would normally have, but we’re trying to be as efficient as we can be. We have less mileage compared to some others, such as the Red Bull but we’re trying to stick to our program and manage the amount of laps we have also and try and be as efficient as we can.”