Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton believes that Ferrari is “bluffing” and downplaying its true pace through pre-season testing in Barcelona.
Mercedes enters 2017 chasing a fourth straight championship double, having claimed both the drivers’ and constructors’ titles every year since 2014.
The German marque remains the favorite to lead the pack once again this year, but appears to be facing a challenge from Ferrari judging by the laps in pre-season testing.
Sebastian Vettel posted the fastest overall time of the winter in Barcelona on Thursday, and even backed off during his best lap, suggesting Ferrari has more time in its pocket.
While Hamilton also appeared to hide his true pace on Thursday en route to P2 on the timesheets, the Briton called out Ferrari and once again said it could be ahead of Mercedes in the pecking order.
“I think Ferrari are bluffing and that they are a lot quicker than they are showing,” Hamilton said.
“They’re very close to us. It’s difficult right now to say exactly who is quicker.
“But they are very close, if not faster. Whatever the case, I can’t wait to go out and compete.”
Hamilton completed 52 laps in the Mercedes W08 EQ Power+ on Thursday and posted a time three-tenths off Vettel’s effort, and was pleased to complete some low fuel running.
“It was good to get some laps in this morning with slightly lower fuel. We worked on balance and made quite a few changes,” Hamilton said.
“I learned a lot about the car before handing over to Valtteri. We were trying to simulate something a bit more like qualifying and the car felt good on lower fuel.
“It’s great to feel it come together.”