Lewis Hamilton believes that he will face a stiffer challenge for this year’s Formula 1 drivers’ championship after both Ferrari and Red Bull displayed impressive pace during pre-season testing.
Hamilton claimed his second drivers’ title in 2014 as Mercedes proved to be the class of the field, claiming a record-breaking 16 wins and 19 pole positions across the course of the season.
Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg proved to be Hamilton’s main rival in 2014, but the Briton is unsure whether the team will enjoy a similar advantage this year as the pecking order remains unclear heading into the new season.
“I’ve not been looking at the others,” he said. “[Pastor] Maldonado was quick today but I’m sure everyone was on different tires and different fuel loads.
“I anticipate Ferrari look quite strong, similar to Red Bull, but I don’t really know where we are amongst those. I think we’ll have a better understanding next week because everyone will bring their upgrade for the first race. I anticipate a harder fight this year. That’s what I’m anticipating.”
Hamilton said that Mercedes is still working hard to try and find the sweet spot with its new W06 Hybrid car, saying that there is always room for improvement during the testing period.
“Testing every year gets shorter and shorter and there’s always more that you could have done,” Hamilton said. “Today the weather wasn’t great. The tires weren’t in the working window so it’s very difficult to rely on setup changes and the feeling you got from them.”
Nico Rosberg will close out the second test in Barcelona for Mercedes on Sunday, with the final four-day test kicking off next Thursday.