• Second Bahrain Test - Day Two

Hamilton: Gap not as big as people think

ESPN Staff
February 28, 2014 « Perez fastest as Red Bull shows improvement | Cars closer in performance than people think - Button »
Lewis Hamilton's Friday was hampered by issues with the Mercedes © Sutton Images

Lewis Hamilton believes there will only be "a couple of tenths" between the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull at the season opener in Australia.

Mercedes have been dubbed favourites in some quarters given their pre-season form but cut their Friday short after 89 laps due to a number of issues. Red Bull's early struggles suggest they may be off the pace of the likes of Mercedes come Melbourne but Hamilton expects them to be right in the mix with fellow title rivals Ferrari.

"We've got a strong package but I don't feel we are the guarantee," Hamilton said. "I'm pretty sure that the Ferrari is very quick, pretty sure the Red Bull car is good, though maybe the engine is not as good as ours. I wouldn't be surprised if at the first race there's a difference of a couple of tenths between the top teams. My goal is always to win the championship but I'm more pumped than ever this year."

Hamilton also believes pre-season testing is no match for the real thing in truly judging where everyone stands.

"We just don't know where we are. We haven't all gone out at the same time on a lot of fuel, when the wind will blow and the grip is good and the temperature is not quite as high. We'll find out when we get to Melbourne. So far I haven't found a balance I like yet."

Despite a day cut short by issues, Hamiton insists he welcomes problems as they come as long as they are solved by the end of pre-season.

"Every time we run we find more and more problems. It's a positive thing, we want it to happen. There's things we need to know. It's a lot of work for the guys, they have strip the car down and check everything, go back to the drawing board and work on certain areas. But it's the same as everyone.

"Whether or not we are pushing the car as hard as we can doesn't matter. I just try to get in the car and try to break it, they've got to fix it!"

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