Hamilton: Mercedes has “best group of people” to handle new rules

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Formula One’s new set of technical regulations will take some getting used to for all the teams in the paddock, but former World Champion Lewis Hamilton believes his Mercedes team can handle the dramatic changes and come out firing in 2014.

In comments to British F1 broadcaster Sky Sports, Hamilton conceded that there will likely be some equipment problems for everybody but feels that Mercedes, the runner-up in this past season’s constructors’ championship, will be able to get through those.

“I feel confident with what the guys are doing; you just never know what’s going to happen,” Hamilton said to Sky. “The engine’s going to be difficult for people. There’s going to be blow-ups next year I’m sure all around and how we manage that [is going to be key]. But I feel that I have the best group of people to be able to do that.”

Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull may have covered all the bases in 2013, but it was still a good year for the Brackley squad as it was able to establish itself as a legitimate World Championship contender with Hamilton and Nico Rosberg leading the charge.

Hamilton remains ever critical of himself, and to be fair, there were a couple of low points in an otherwise solid year for him. However, he tells Sky that he’s been able to shake off rough outings more quickly.

“…Whilst in the moment – while you’re right in front of the camera – it looks like I am really hard on myself,” he said. “I am naturally and I’m really thinking about it days after but I’m over it and want to get to the next race. ‘How can I do it differently? What can I do differently with the car?'”

That ability may prove necessary at some point while Mercedes and the other teams come to grips with the new V6 turbo engines and energy recovery systems on the 2014 cars.

But it’s worth remembering that Mercedes was no slouch in terms of V8 engine power, and if it can bring that power as well as reliability over to its V6, then Hamilton’s faith in his crew could be rewarded.

Fernando Alonso confirmed for Toyota LMP1 test in Bahrain

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SAKHIR, Bahrain – Fernando Alonso will take his first step towards a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans when he tests an LMP1 car for Toyota on Sunday at the Bahrain International Circuit.

McLaren Formula 1 driver and two-time world champion Alonso is hoping to appear at Le Mans next year as part of his bid to become just the second man in history to complete the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’.

Alonso has already completed one leg by winning the Monaco Grand Prix twice, and made his debut at the Indianapolis 500 in May with McLaren-Honda-Andretti, retiring late on due to an engine failure.

Momentum is building for Alonso to make his Le Mans debut with Toyota in 2018, starting with a first sports car run-out in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s end-of-season rookie test in Bahrain on Sunday.

Alonso arrived in Bahrain on Saturday to watch the six-hour WEC race as an invited guest of the Bahraini royal family, with his participation in the test being confirmed after the race.

“We are very excited that Fernando will test our car. When he visited us in Cologne everyone who met him could sense his enthusiasm and passion for our sport; he is a true racer,” Toyota Gazoo Racing team president Hisatake Murata said.

“We very much respect his interest in different forms of motorsport and it is a pleasure to offer him this chance to drive a hybrid LMP1 car. It will be interesting to hear his feedback on the TS050 Hybrid.”

Alonso will share running in the Toyota car with 19-year-old Thomas Laurent, who received a test as a prize for his star display during his rookie WEC campaign this year, while regular Toyota racer Mike Conway will also complete laps.