Lewis Hamilton Q&A: On Jerez, the first week with Mercs, and improving the W04
New recruit happy and content with life at Mercedes so far...
By Sky Sports Online. Last Updated: February 8, 2013 5:30pm
Speaking to the press corps during the lunchbreak on Day Four of the first test at Jerez, the new Mercedes recruit opens up about life with his new team and his new car...
How is the car progressing?
Lewis Hamilton: "The guys are working in the wind tunnel every day and we have a package that we will have for the first race which is probably being signed off right now. So whatever we find over the coming weeks perhaps won't be in there for the first race but it will definitely be there for the races after.
"But we're not starting in a bad place, which is definitely a big improvement for them [compared to 2012]."
So what's your feeling as you leave Jerez?
LH: "I feel like we have a good platform, a good foundation to work on. I'm just going to keep on asking for downforce and hope the guys keep on doing a great job back at the factory."
Performance from the W04 looks like it comes easily...
LH: "I wouldn't say it comes easily. We're just able to get the tyres working on the first lap, which they struggled to do last year, but obviously it's quite warm and the track temperature is quite high.
"But it's not a bad place for us to start. We definitely need to work and understand the car more. 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."
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Sebastian Vettel said it was no major issue for you that you lost track time. Do you agree with that?
LH: "I feel like the mileage...of course it would count, because by the time we get to the end someone's on five thousand kilometres or whatever it is and we would have done four - or something like that.
"But we're catching up. Nico did 150 laps [on Thursday] so he really already caught half a day back up there as people were doing 80 laps or something like that. We're probably not going to get to 150 laps today because Nico had already done close to 100 by now [lunchtime] but we'll still try and get as much time in as possible."
Do you feel at home in the car yet?
LH: "I've only done 59 laps but every lap that I drive it, I'm learning, every change that I make I'm learning, every time they refer to some set-up change I'm learning. But it's going to take some time."
Any idea of where you are in the pecking order yet?
LH: "I've asked the guys to try and predict it, but they don't know. We don't know what fuel loads people are on so it's just a guess."
What did you make of Vettel's 1:18.5 time on the hard tyres?
LH: "I don't know how the hards behave but over the last couple of days people seem to be getting a decent time out of the hards. The Red Bull is always quick so it's not a surprise. It doesn't impress me at all."
Are you where you expected to be after the first test?
LH: "I think we're at the level we're comfortable with so we couldn't really ask for more. The guys have done a great job to add downforce to the car and understand where they're going to take the car in the direction that we really want it to go. And now they need the direction: they need me and Nico to tell them where they can improve the car and which direction to go. Is it the front we need to improve or is it the rear end? Is it globally, is it corner entry, this kind of thing? So that's what we're working on."
How's the first week with Mercedes gone?
LH: "It's fantastic. The team are incredibly supportive and they all want to do right by me. They're caring and when I had the issue the other day they were really concerned and they don't even know me that well! So already building a bond with them and they are working flat out, which is good to see. They're energised, they're ready, they're fit. I think some of the guys train on the track, I've been seeing the engineers and the mechanics training in the evening, so great motivation in the team."
What's the plan for Barcelona?
LH: "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."