Lewis Hamilton cools talk of championship challenge

 

Lewis Hamilton has dismissed claims from long-time rivals Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso he will be in the hunt for this season's Formula One world title.

On a rain-hit final day of the second pre-season test in Barcelona, Hamilton finished top of the standings in his Mercedes, although on this occasion the times were relatively meaningless.

Instead, it was an opportunity for all the teams to at least give an airing to Pirelli's range of intermediate and wet-weather tyres.

Hamilton's best lap today at the Circuit de Catalunya of one minute 23.282secs was set on medium tyres on a drying track in between the showers.

In contrast, it was 1.4secs adrift of the fastest this week from the driver who replaced him at McLaren in young Mexican Sergio Perez.

Although Hamilton produced a seemingly impressive time on the hard compound of rubber on Wednesday, suggestions he is a championship contender again this season are far from his thoughts.

"I think people are talking us up at the moment," said Hamilton.

"Vettel, and maybe Fernando, were saying I'm maybe going to be competing for the world championship, but I really don't see that happening at the moment.

"Of course that's our goal, but you have to remember the car was over a second off, sometimes two seconds off, last year and we've not caught up a second.

"Other teams will also have put a second on over the winter, so we've not gained three seconds, that's a fact.

"Hopefully by the end of the year, that's our goal, but definitely not at the beginning."

It could be Hamilton is severely downplaying his chances because the car has so far certainly appeared to be within touching distance of the likes of Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Lotus.

"The downforce isn't great, but we have some updates," added the 28-year-old, who this week brought dog Roscoe with him to the paddock.

"It (the car) is probably not fast enough to be the quickest, but it's not slow, that's for sure.

"So I don't think there should be a reason not to succeed. I think sometimes people lose their way and it takes a group of people to try and put the train back on its tracks.

"We've lots of great people here who I think have been doing that and we're now rolling in the right direction."

Overall, it proved a frustrating day for all the teams and drivers, none more so than Jenson Button who only yesterday complained about his lack of mileage in testing so far.

On a day when there were also eight red flags for various spins and incidents, the 33-year-old was second quickest on the timesheet in his McLaren, finishing 0.351s behind Hamilton.

Jules Bianchi was fifth fastest in his Force India, but with a time and data the team will be unable to compare against Adrian Sutil.

Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley confirmed this week the board would make a decision on their second driver over the weekend after studying the data of Bianchi and Sutil, who was back in the car yesterday for the first time in 15 months.

With insufficient data, it could be Force India will run both drivers again in next week's third test that starts on Thursday in Barcelona, with an announcement to come after that.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa, Mark Webber in his Red Bull, Caterham's Giedo van der Garde, Max Chilton for Marussia, the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne, Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez and Lotus' Romain Grosjean all set lap times, but given the weather, it was more about data collection.

For Williams duo Pastor Maldonado and rookie Valtteri Bottas, neither man set a time, but there was plenty of pit-stop practice for the team.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor