2011 F1 testing
Lewis Hamilton says his concerns about the MP4-26 are “reliability and performance.”
Speaking to journalists at Barcelona he said: “I can only be guessing [how quick we are] I don’t know where anyone else really is. Yesterday I looked at the times and everyone was in the 1’21s and I can’t get into the 1’21s.
“Yesterday Jenson didn’t do any light fuel runs, just tyre runs. It’s difficult to know exactly where we are. 1’21.2 is very competitive. I would guess we could get to a low 1’22 maybe. But yes it’s just a guess.”
Hamilton described the conditions in today’s test as “similar to Korea. There was a lot of aquaplaning but if it was race day, I would be saying ‘let’s do it’.”
He said he’s keen to start racing again as over four months have passed since the last Grand Prix: “I’m positive. We have a lot of racing ahead and I’m looking forward to it. It’s felt like the longest break.
“I would have been happier with a shorter time off because it feels like it’s been a really long winter. I’m excited to go back racing and I’m looking forward to getting out to Australia nice and early and prepare.
“I am always hoping for the most optimistic improvement. All of a sudden the team say ‘we have this coming’ the day before and then we have something new. You never know when this happens. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed and try and keep an eye on what the guys are doing. I know everyone is working as hard as they can as they always are.”
“I never like to use the word ‘frustrating’”
Hamilton denied he was frustrated with the situation, saying: “It’s not frustrating, for me it’s unfortunate.
“Of course we pushed our test back for these two days by a day later and it was beautifully sunny on Thursday. That’s the way the luck goes.”
He added: “I never like to use the word ‘frustrating’. I’m not frustrated.
“It’s tough on everyone in the team because everyone works so hard and when you have something that looks so beautiful and it’s not a disaster, it just hasn’t found as much performance as we would have liked.
“It’s a foundation we can build on and that’s all that really matters. It means that we can get there. If you look at last year we didn’t have the fastest car at the beginning and we were there or thereabouts at the end of the championship. It’s a long, long year and I have no doubts we will get there.”
He expects some confusion over the tyres in the opening rounds: “The first few races everyone is going to be confused.
“Eventually it will settle down and people will get used to it to how ever many stops and it will become more common. Where now it could be two, four or five pit stops. We will see.
“It’s about quickly making the call when your tyres lose the temperature and they go. Then you have to hope the team say ‘don’t come in’.
“I think our race pace doesn’t seem so bad, if we can finish the race. Our race pace doesn’t look so bad compared to others. There’s a definite different driving style and approach you need to make these tyres last.”
“The fun is the qualifying”
He denied that having to spend more time conserving tyres would take away the fun of driving: “No. The fun is the qualifying and there will still be overtaking hopefully so that will be fun. At least we can have some fun. Fun is when you get the grip in qualifying and I think we’re still going to get that.
“Qualifying is one of the most fun parts of the weekend. We will still get fun because the tyres do hold up for a couple of laps. It’s just over a race distance with over 140 kilos [of fuel], they really begin to struggle.”
He compared the current tyres with the Bridgestone compounds used four years ago: “It’s going to be the same as 2007. We were pushing a lot more and the tyres were giving.
“In 2008, we had to push a little bit less, 2009 push even lesser and 2010 even more. 2011 we just have to push even less.”
Hamilton said hadn’t been surprised by anyone’s performance in testing so far. Asked about Schumacher’s time yesterday, he said: “He’s a seven-time world champion. When he does a fast lap you’re not going to be surprised. He’s been racing for God knows how many years.”
Hamilton added that returning test driver Pedro de la Rosa would now be driving the car for anything other than straight-line aerodynamic tests: “Pedro won’t drive the car.
“Pedro will do some straight-line tests which he will tell you is not exciting. There is no input he can give from that.
“The only thing he can do is when me and Jenson go back and ask for developments, he can test them and new aero components on a simulator. When it’s the optimum setting, me and Jenson will test it and see if we like it. It’s a completely different role than it used to be.”
Quotes and additional reporting by Leandra Graves
2011 F1 testing
- Young Drivers Test Day 3 in pictures
- Vergne completes third day on top in Abu Dhabi
- Young Drivers Test Day 2 in pictures
- Vergne stays quickest on second day of test
- Italian F3 pair complete Ferrari test
- Jean-Eric Vergne leads first day of young drivers test
- 2011 F1 testing diary part four: Barcelona
- McLaren cover least test distance with new car
- Rosberg: Mercedes are “on the up”
- Second Barcelona test day 5 in pictures
Image © Pirelli