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Times don't tell the whole story - Hamilton

ESPNF1 Staff
March 12, 2011 « Hamilton clocks only time of Friday morning washout | »
Lewis Hamilton: It's a long, long year and I have no doubts that we can compete with these guys © Sutton Images

Lewis Hamilton does not think the gap between McLaren and the front runners at this week's test in Barcelona is a true reflection of the deficit his team faces entering the first race of the season.

Michael Schumacher set the fastest time of the week on Friday with a 1:21.268 on low fuel. Hamilton set McLaren's best lap time on Wednesday, when track conditions were not as good, posting a 1:22.888 - the fourth fastest time of that day. He said the lap times set on Friday were impressive but warned against making any comparisons, including to team-mate Jenson Button's time from the same day.

"I looked at the times yesterday and everybody was doing 1:21s, and I can't get into the 1:21s - the other day I just got into the 1:22s," he told reporters during a rain-drenched final day on Saturday. "So if you look based on my times compared to theirs then we're two seconds off - but we're not two seconds off. Yesterday Jenson didn't do a very light fuel run or a decent tyre run, so it's difficult to know exactly where we are. I'm assuming they were doing qualifying runs, so 1:21.2 is very, very competitive. And I'd guess that we could get down to a low 1:22 maybe, but it's just a guess."

He said the McLaren's pace on heavier fuel loads showed signs of promise, but he was still concerned about the car's reliability over a race distance.

"I've done some long runs on the different tyres. Not today, but on previous days. The other day the car was feeling quite a lot better. I think our race pace doesn't seem so bad. Whether we can finish a race is the next thing, but our race pace doesn't look so bad compared to other people's. There's definitely a different driving style you need, a different approach from last year with these tyres."

Asked if he was frustrated to be going into the season playing catch-up, Hamilton said: "I don't like to use the word frustrated, because I'm not frustrated. It's tough on everyone in the team, because everyone put so much work in to it and you see something that comes out and looks so beautiful and - it's not a disaster - it just doesn't have as much performance as we'd like at the moment.

"But it's a foundation we can build on and that's all that really matters. We can get there. If you look at last year we didn't have the fastest car at the beginning but we were there or there abouts and second in the constructors' championship. It's a long, long year and I have no doubts that we can compete with these guys."