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.