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New Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton enjoying new learning curve with the W04

2008 Champion believes team have a "good foundation" for new year

By Pete Gill.   Last Updated: 09/02/13 8:35am

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Lewis Hamilton has spoken optimistically about Mercedes' progress during the Jerez test - but admitted that he faces a race against time to fully understand the W04 for the start of the 2013 season.

The four-day test in Southern Spain marked Hamilton's official debut for the team and his first experience of a F1 car not built by McLaren.

Although the test started in ignominious fashion for the Mercedes team when a fire on Nico Rosberg's W04 was followed by a brake-failure for Hamilton that resulted in a high-speed crash after just 15 laps on Wednesday, matters had dramatically improved by the end of the week.

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And with Rosberg completing 148 problem-free laps on Thursday, it was an upbeat Hamilton who addressed the press at lunchtime on Friday after enjoying a more productive second spell in his new charger.

"I feel like we have a good platform, a good foundation to work on," the 2008 World Champion told Sky Sports News' Rachel Brookes. "We're not starting in a bad place."

But quite where Mercedes stand in the nascent 2013 pecking order is a question that neither team nor driver can currently answer.

"I've asked the guys to try and predict it, but they don't know," admitted Lewis. "We don't know what fuel loads people are on so it's just a guess."

Hamilton's next appearance in Mercedes colours - and the W04 - will be at Barcelona for the second test of the winter, which begins on February 19. In the meantime, the 28-year-old faces some late-night cramming to learn all about his new charger.

"There's a huge amount of work for me to fully understand - I need to do a lot of studying before I fully understand the car before the season," he acknowledged.

"I think in the next test we'll continue to work on set-up, particularly to understand the characteristics of the aerodynamics. The guys are just trying to get as much information as possible.

"As for me, I'm just listening to the car. Just trying to figure out what I need to improve."

Read the Lewis Hamilton Q&A in full

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