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.
Talon Hawkins, 19, will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut on a 250 this week in Houston, Texas as a fill-in rider for Jalek Swoll.
During the Anaheim 2 weekend, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team announced Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in a practice crash.
That same weekend, Hawkins made some noise. He took the lead from teammate Casey Cohran on Lap 2 of the 250 SX Futures Main and led for three laps before he was overtaken by eventual winner Daxton Bennick. Cochran also got around him to push Hawkins to third.
This will not be Hawkins SuperMotocross professional debut, however; he made three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starts last year with results of 19th at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, 27th at Ironman in Crawfordsville, Indiana and a best finish of 17th in the season finale at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.
Hawkins also has a top-10 finish in the 125 All-Star division at Pala in 2019 riding a Husqvarna.
Speaking with RacerXOnline.com before the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, Hawkins predicted his future with Husqvarna would come down to how he performed in that race.
“It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s,” Hawkins said. “Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to [Aldon] Baker’s [Factory] or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.”
Hawkins finished third overall in the 125 B/C and Schoolboy divisions at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals.