TUR­BU­LENCE AHEAD

Hamil­ton warns new cars may be nice to drive but over­tak­ing will not be easy

New Straits Times - - Sport -

TRIPLE world cham­pion Lewis Hamil­ton has warned that For­mula One’s new cars, while bet­ter look­ing and thrilling to drive, may not do much for the rac­ing when the sea­son starts in Aus­tralia on March 26.

The Briton, clear ti­tle favourite af­ter the re­tire­ment of Mercedes team­mate and cham­pion Nico Ros­berg, said over­tak­ing could be even more of a prob­lem than it was be­fore.

“Now the tur­bu­lence is eas­ily twice as pow­er­ful from the car, com­ing out of the back of the car,” he told re­porters af­ter three days of test­ing, with Mercedes do­ing more laps and go­ing faster than any of their ri­vals.

“So that just mag­ni­fies the is­sue we had be­fore.

“Let’s hope the rac­ing’s fan­tas­tic, but don’t hold your breath, I’d say.”

The test­ing time set by Hamil­ton’s new team­mate Valtteri Bot­tas on Wed­nes­day would have put the Finn on pole at the Span­ish Grand Prix in any year since the Cir­cuit de Catalunya changed lay­out in 2007.

Hamil­ton, who had con­cen­trated mainly on putting on mileage, said the per­for­mance was “amaz­ing” in terms of the speed car­ried through cor­ners.

“It def­i­nitely is the fastest that I have ever driven in For­mula One,” said the 32-year-old, who made his de­but with McLaren in 2007. “We’re flat (out) in cor­ners that we’ve never been be­fore.

“I hope that it splits the men from the boys,” he said of the phys­i­cal chal­lenges the cars im­pose on driv­ers with the fat­ter tyres and re­vised aero­dy­nam­ics sub­ject­ing them to in­creased Gforces through cor­ners.

The greater down­force means driv­ers no longer have to brake into some cor­ners, al­low­ing them to go through with­out even lift­ing.

“In ac­tual fact we are slower on the straights but it’s how late and deep you can brake into the cor­ners, it’s how quick you can get back to the gas, how you are able to take the cor­ners flat out eas­ily,” said Hamil­ton.

“It’s quite un­real. It’s amaz­ing. I’m com­ing through some of these cor­ners...a nd I’m like a kid on a roller-coaster ride be­cause it’s so much bet­ter than it was be­fore. But fol­low­ing is not good.”

He said it was great that For­mula One had made changes but en­gi­neers had warned of the con­se­quences.

“Fol­low­ing is not easy. It’s worse to fol­low an­other car,” said Hamil­ton. “I don’t know how that’s go­ing to play out in an ac­tual race when there’s lots of cars.”

That may not be so much of a prob­lem for Hamil­ton, whose Mercedes looks so quick that he can ex­pect to start from the front. He smiled: “That’s the plan.”

Mean­while, Wil­liams pulled out of the fi­nal day of For­mula One’s first pre-sea­son test for safety rea­sons af­ter Cana­dian teenager Lance Stroll crashed the car into a tyre wall on Wed­nes­day.

The for­mer champions said that a thor­ough in­spec­tion of the new FW40 car overnight had re­vealed some dam­age to the chas­sis.

“There­fore, on safety grounds, the team will not run the car to­day (yes­ter­day),” a state­ment said.

“A sec­ond chas­sis will be pre­pared at track this af­ter­noon, as orig­i­nally planned, with the team aim­ing to be back on track for the sec­ond test next week start­ing on Tues­day.”

AFP PIC

Lewis Hamil­ton in ac­tion at the Catalunya race­track in Mont­melo, Barcelona dur­ing pre-sea­son test­ing on Wed­nes­day.

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