Barcelona “should be a good benchmark” says Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has said that the Spanish Grand Prix should be a “good benchmark” for judging the progress that the Mercedes 1 team has made since winter testing.481128598-53282142013

The Brit admitted that he can’t wait to get back in the car and that his two third and two fifth place finishes have been a big boost for both himself and the team.

Discussing the upcoming fifth round of the 2013 season in a Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team press release he said “It feels like a long time since Bahrain so we’re all looking forward to getting to Barcelona next weekend and starting to get into the routine of the European season.”

He admitted that the break between Bahrain and Barcelona had been welcome due to the hectic first four races. “The short break has been good however, and I’ve had the chance to catch up with family and friends, and also spend some time at the factory with the guys, working on our efforts to improve.”

He currently lies third in the drivers standings after what has been a good start to the season for the 28-year-old. The strong results has been a big boost for the team, “We’ve been boosted by the results that we’ve had at the start of the season and to come away from the first four races with two third and two fifth places feels like a real achievement.”

After spending six seasons at McLaren, moving to Mercedes has been a big step for the Brit and he now feels confortable in the Mercedes W04. “I’m feeling very comfortable in the car now and we know the areas that we need to improve so a lot of effort is being put in to close that gap to the front-runners.”

The team looked strong in winter testing at the Circuit de Catalunya and Hamilton thinks that it will be the perfect place to judge their progress. “Barcelona should be a good test as we know the circuit so well having completed most of the pre-season test programme there. The weekend should be a good benchmark of the progress we have made since then.”

Nico Rosberg is likewise excited to see how the car compares and is confident that he can challenge at the front after their strong final winter test and the cars performance in the first four rounds. “I’m looking forward to travelling to Spain next weekend. We know that the car went very well at the Circuit de Catalunya in pre-season testing so I am hopeful that we can have a strong weekend. We will have to wait and see how our pace compares however.”

The German has been busy at the factory and has been putting in the hours at the wheel of the teams simulator. “I’ve been in the factory for a couple of days this week, on the simulator and meeting with the team, and everyone has been working hard to make progress on our race day performance.”

He is predicting an interesting race weekend, with the running order still being relatively unclear despite being four races in to the season. “It will be an interesting weekend and once we see how everyone performs in Barcelona, it should give a good idea of how the rest of the season will look.”

Ross Brawn, the Team Principal, admitted that the teams main focus over the three week break has been finalising their upgrade package for Spain and trying to understand why they dropped off the pace in Bahrain. He said “We have made progress in the latter area and will evaluate some developments over the upcoming race weekends to help improve the situation. We’re not there yet but we are making progress and of course, performing in the race is what really counts.”

Despite this, overtaking is difficult at the Barcelona circuit and hence Qualifying becomes more important. He also said that other teams will be bringing significant upgrades, stating that it will be an “interesting” weekend. “Overtaking is more difficult there than at some of the early season tracks and, of course, every team will be bringing new developments so the weekend should provide an interesting challenge.”

The teams executive director Toto Wolff added “We have built a good picture of our varying levels of race performance and why we under-performed overall in Bahrain. In Barcelona, we will test some solutions aimed at improving our tyre management in addition to our planned upgrade package.”

According to Wolff, their main aim is to match their qualifying pace on Sunday afternoon. The team has had a car on pole twice so far this season but on both occasions they have dropped back in the race. “Our target is to improve our Sunday afternoon performance to match what we have delivered on Saturday in the past two races.”

Mercedes certainly impressed in winter testing but many expect that they were one of the only teams to show their real speed. With warmer conditons, tyres will certainly be the talk of the paddock once again on what looks to be a very interesting race weekend.

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

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