Lewis Hamilton set an eye-catching time in Barcelona testing on Wednesday
New Mercedes recruit "pretty happy" with day's work
By Mike Wise in Barcelona. Last Updated: 20/02/13 6:43pm
Lewis Hamilton generated a ripple of interest with his fastest lap in testing on Wednesday but Mercedes' new recruit was more concerned by tyre wear at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Hamilton ended the day fourth fastest on the timesheets with a lap of 1:22.726 seconds. That effort was nearly nine tenths slower than the fastest of all, set by his successor at McLaren Sergio Perez, but the Mexican was on the soft compound tyre.
By contrast, Hamilton was on hards. If Pirelli's pre-season estimate is anything to go by, the difference between the two compounds is worth about a second per lap - a margin that suggests the Mercedes might be a genuinely competitive proposition after all.
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Then again, there are all the usual caveats applicable to testing: that teams work to their own programmes; the great unknown of relative fuel loads. The cool track temperatures, which are hardly ideal for tyre work, can also be added to the list.
And then some: tyre degradation provoked by the chilly weather has been a talking point over the past couple of days, so it came as little surprise when Hamilton preferred to discuss that rather than his eye-catching time.
"We had the hard tyre in the morning and it was pretty good. But all the tyres generally have degradation, and so looking after them is not that easy," said the 2008 World Champion, who set his time at the start of a ten-lap run just before lunch.
"We're not focusing on anyone else, we're just working on our programme, to try and make a step forward, with the degradation and car set-up,
"But it's going in the right direction. I'm happy with today's 121 laps, obviously."
Hamilton has certainly been putting in the mileage since the Silver Arrow's stuttering start in Jerez two weeks ago, having also racked up 145 laps on Friday there.
A source of inspiration seems to be the team themselves. "We've got a lot of work to do, but I've got a great group of guys behind me," Hamilton said. "I don't know, I'm sure they've been working hard over the years. I've only just arrived but already I see fantastic determination and I really hope all that hard work eventually pays off.
Hamilton added that more updates for the W04 would come in the final test in Barcelona. However, he was less specific when asked what a realistic target for his new team might be.
"I can't," he admitted. "The realistic target is to finish races and get into the points."