After admitting that Ferrari was the best in pre-season testing, Lewis Hamilton said he is prepared for his “toughest battle yet”.
Hamilton believes his team is “potentially half a second” slower than Ferrari. However, on the day of the final test, the five-time world champion was slower than Sebastian Vettel by just 0.003 seconds.
The Mercedes driver said: “Last year there were many occasions we as a team were behind on performance and had to achieve.”
“We were not behind anywhere near as much last year.”
Ferrari’s car was evidently fast and easy-to-drive during the two-week testing in Spain. Whereas, the Mercedes was prone to tyre problems and difficult to drive.
Hamilton added: “Last year they arrived with a car working well but they have done even better this year”.
“It’s OK. We don’t mind the challenge, it just means we have to work harder. I’m not worried or disappointed or anything. We have a hill to climb but we know how to do it.”
“I’m happy to know Hamilton believes we are faster and very strong but I believe Mercedes will be very strong in Australia and it would be completely wrong to think we are faster than them. I am not expecting them to be behind us. I think they will be very, very close,” said the team principal of Ferrari Mattia Binotto.
Vettel secured the first place at the pre-season. On the account of Hamilton being late, Vettel moved ahead of his team-mate Charles Leclerc by 0.01 second.
Though Ferrari was fast, the team faced reliability issues during the final test.
Both the drivers Vettel and Leclerc faced issues with their cars and the former even crashed on the second day due to a wheel-rim failure.
Ferrari has been facing issues as Vettel’s car broke down on Friday with an electrical complication and they had to abandon the race-simulation run.
Red Bull also faced trouble when Pierre Gasly crashed his car at a high speed during the final day of the test on Thursday. The team took half an hour to get the car repaired and back on track with Max Verstappen taking the wheel.
Following that, Max ended at the 11th position after struggling with some gearbox issues.
Day four, final pre-season testing, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, standings:
1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari) one minute 16.221 seconds
2 Lewis Hamilton (GB) Mercedes 1:16.224
3 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 1:16.561
4 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 1:16.843
5 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Toro Rosso 1:16.898
6 Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren 1:16.913
7 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas 1:17.076s
8 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault 1:17.114
9 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo 1:17.239
10 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas 1:17.565
11 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:17.709
12 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point 1:17.791
13 Robert Kubica (Pol) Williams 1:18.993