Lewis Hamilton insists he will not waste time worrying about Mercedes’ pre-season troubles ahead of his bid for an unprecedented eighth world championship.
Mercedes, who have won the past seven drivers’ and constructors’ titles, have not been at their imperious best during the sole three days of testing prior to the new Formula One campaign which starts in Bahrain on 28 March.
A gearbox failure saw the Silver Arrows miss almost all of the opening morning in the Gulf Kingdom on Friday, before Hamilton lost further track time when he spun off into the gravel on day two.
But Hamilton, 36, said: “I don’t waste time worrying because that deters you from finding a solution. It is better when it doesn’t go smoothly, and it is better that it doesn’t go smoothly now, and does go smoothly when we start racing. This is the perfect time for us to find the issues and have the problems, so I welcome them.
“Everyone is just keeping their heads down. Nobody is fazed by it. We are a multi-time championship-winning team and we know how to pull together and stay focused on the job.”
Sergio Perez topped the time charts on the final morning and – while lap times in testing have to be treated cautiously – Red Bull have enjoyed an encouraging three days.
Max Verstappen could be Hamilton’s closest challenger for a title that would take the Briton clear of Michael Schumacher in the record books. Red Bull will also boast a more experienced line-up this season with Perez, a veteran of almost 200 races, replacing Alexander Albon.
Hamilton added: “It is without doubt quite impressive to see the speed of some of the other teams and Red Bull are looking particularly strong. They will be a different machine and animal this year with a strong driver line-up and really good car. You can only assume they are going to be right there, if not at the front, at the first race and it is going to be a great, long battle with them throughout the year.”
Verstappen, 23, said: “It is too early to say how we will do but I have positive feelings in the car. We will find out in qualifying where we are because that is where you can judge pure performance, but from the test so far it has been a good few days.”
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