F1: Hamilton pleasantly surprised with Mercedes’ reliability in Jerez

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After their W05’s World Championship run in 2014, Mercedes’ new challenger, the W06, has a very tough act to follow in the 2015 Formula One season.

But during the last four days of F1 testing in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s new ride delivered particularly well in reliability.

As noted earlier today, both Mercedes men put in major mileage in Jerez. Rosberg logged 308 laps over his two days with the W06, while Hamilton logged 207 laps over his two days.

Hamilton, the reigning driver’s champion, turned in 117 laps on Wednesday and was third-quickest on the time sheets behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.

Wednesday wasn’t altogether smooth for Hamilton, who had a spin and also lost a small amount of track time in the afternoon due to a cooling problem. But at day’s end, he remarked that the Jerez test was a great one for the Silver Arrows.

“[Team technical director] Paddy [Lowe] just said it has been the highest week of mileage,” Hamilton told reporters in Jerez. “That’s a surprise for us all. Nico had good days with over 150 laps on each and I averaged 100 laps, so it’s great to see the work put in by all the guys in the garage.

“We’ve put some decent mileage on the car this week and although you always want more, the reliability has been pretty special.”

As for his perspective on the W06’s performance, Hamilton said driving the car feels much like driving the W05 that he won 11 races in last year. However, he would not determine just how strong it is yet.

“Every single time I’ve driven the car, it never feels good the first time because the car is at its worst – the tires are not good in the cold conditions here in Jerez,” Hamilton explained. “It never feels good the first time, that’s just how it is, but you know that’s the worst it’s going to be this year because it will get better throughout the year.

“Overall the car feels very, very similar to last year, so [it’s] very difficult to pick out any differences.”

But while Mercedes racked up the miles, neither Hamilton or Rosberg finished P1 in times throughout the Jerez sessions. Ferrari led three of the four days (Sebastian Vettel led Sunday and Monday’s testing), and Sauber led on Tuesday with Felipe Nasr.

Hamilton said he didn’t pay much attention to his competition, though.

“I’ve not really been looking to be honest,” he said. “I’ve just been focusing on doing my own thing. I’m sure they’re on different fuel loads to others, and they look like they’re doing shorter, more attacking runs – which we are not.”

Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”