Hamilton pleased with pace despite car failure

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Lewis Hamilton may have finished Free Practice 2 in the gravel following a car failure late on in the session, but the British driver is pleased with the pace of his Mercedes W04 heading into the first race of the 2013 Formula One season.

“The real thing is that we are competitive. I am massively excited to be up there. To be as competitive as we are today is a real plus.

“It’s too early to say if a podium is possible. Red Bull are quick, the Ferraris are quick, and Lotus are up there. I’m not sure what is happening with the McLarens but I’m sure they will fix it because they are a brilliant team.”

Hamilton’s off at the end of FP2 was caused by a damaged front splitter, yet many believed that the 2008 world champion had made a mistake, including Lewis himself.

“I thought to myself, ‘what an idiot’, but when I got back they explained to me that the front of the bib underneath the chassis was broken.

“I had separation of the front splitter, so it was pushed right up underneath and touching the underneath of the chassis. I lost a lot of front end. I went into turn six, turned in and nothing really happened, I just went straight on.”

Mercedes have shown strong pace in both practice sessions, with Nico Rosberg finishing third in FP2, and Hamilton managed to end up seventh despite the car failure. Although Mercedes’ pace does not match that of winter testing, they have clearly made a step forward since the end of last season, and they will be keen to start well in Australia to set the tone for the rest of the year.

Ferrari signs Callum Ilott to young driver academy

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Ferrari has confirmed the signing of rising British racer Callum Ilott to its prestigious driver academy ahead of the 2018 season.

Ilott, 18, is a former member of Red Bull’s junior program, and has spent the last three years racing in the FIA European Formula 3 series, taking eight race wins.

After finishing the 2017 season fourth in the championship with Prema Powerteam, Ilott has now linked up with the Ferrari Driver Academy in the next step of his racing career, becoming its first British member.

“Ferrari Driver Academy is pleased to announce that British driver Callum Ilott is the latest promising young driver to be selected for its development program,” an announcement from Ferrari reads.

“18 years old, Ilott joins the FDA in his third season in car racing, having just finished the FIA F3 European Championship. He comes with a strong pedigree in international Formula 3 racing, having made the jump directly from karting as reigning European Champion.

“Ilott joins Charles Leclerc, Antonio Fuoco, Guan Yu Zhou, Giuliano Alesi, Marcus Armstrong and Enzo Fittipaldi in the programme, which supports talented young drivers on their career path in motorsport.”

Besides its existing roster, the Ferrari Driver Academy also played a part in the careers of Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and the late Jules Bianchi.