Hamilton mightily impressed with ‘very strong’ Ferrari

It’s early days still but from what he’s seen so far in pre-season testing, Lewis Hamilton admits that Ferrari is looking “very, very strong”.

The Scuderia’s new SF90 has been running like clockwork in Barcelona, sitting the pace on the first two opening days of winter testing.

However, while he’s been impressed by the Italian outfit’s war horse, Hamilton insists it is still too early to draw any definitive conclusions from Ferrari’s performance.

“I don’t think you can put a figure on it but Ferrari are very, very strong right now, as you have seen,” he said.

“They are racking up great mileage as well, so it appears they have a better package than they had last year. It means it will be even more of a challenge for us this year.”

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The Mercedes camp has so far kept a relatively low profile in Barcelona, with both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas working diligently through the team’s various programmes.

Any relative compare between the Silver Arrows squad and Ferrari would therefore be vain.

“They’ve been looking great,” he said. “For us we are just digging deep trying to understand the car, pretty much the same as the beginning of every year.

“The Ferraris always particularly look strong, particularly in the last few years, they have looked strong right at the beginning.

“So, that is to be expected. For us we are just going about our process. Everyone is working extremely hard so it has been normal.

“We let everyone else do their thing and try to focus…really dig deep, and try to make sure our processes are better than ever before,” he added.

“Making sure we are analysing the data, better than ever before, and the delivery from the drivers’ point of view. The feedback that I give, make sure it is more accurate than it has ever been before.

“That is what I will try to focus on and we are trying to focus on. And making sure we get through our run plans. We will have a better idea I guess this time next week whereabouts we stand.”

Should Ferrari carry its momentum into the opening races of the 2019 season, Hamilton is confident his team won’t leave its arch-rival’s edge go unchecked;

“Right now we are competing against our past selves as a team,” said the Brit.

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“We are really trying to raise the bar in all those areas, and all the engineers back at the factory are raising the bar.

“It has been super impressive to see the atmosphere within the team after all these years of success that we have had. To see that the hunger is still there. To see that the drive is still there.

“No one is phasing out. No one is backing off. Everyone is pushing full steam ahead. It has been a difficult winter for the guys back at the factory.

“I can see it and I’ve heard from the guys: probably the most difficult one with the rule change once again, but if anyone can do it I truly believe it is my guys.

“We are the only team to have won a championship in a cross over of a rule and I am confident that even if we don’t start on the right foot, particularly by the first race, I feel confident…..”

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