Hamil­ton calls Fer­rari’s bluff as Vet­tel daz­zles

New Straits Times - - Sport - BARCELONA

LEWIS Hamil­ton claimed Fer­rari were bluff­ing af­ter Se­bas­tian Vet­tel blitzed the com­pe­ti­tion in post­ing the fastest time by a dis­tance in pre-sea­son test­ing in Barcelona on Thurs­day.

The Ger­man four-time world cham­pion clocked 1min 19.024sec around a sun-kissed Cir­cuit de Catalunya de­spite ap­pear­ing to ease off in the third sec­tor of his fastest lap.

Hamil­ton was three tenths slower on the same ul­tra­soft tyre com­pound used by Vet­tel.

“I think Fer­rari are bluff­ing and that they are a lot quicker than they are show­ing,” said the English­man, who had a busy 24 hours in the Cata­lan cap­i­tal.

Hamil­ton was putting the Mercedes W08 to the test at 9am lo­cal time af­ter be­ing pic­tured cel­e­brat­ing Barcelona’s sen­sa­tional Cham­pi­ons League come­back against Paris Saint-Ger­main with Barca star Ney­mar into the early hours in the Cata­lan cap­i­tal.

Mercedes have dom­i­nated for the past three sea­sons with Hamil­ton and re­tired world cham­pion Nico Ros­berg win­ning all but two of 21 races last year.

How­ever, de­spite his scep­ti­cism, Hamil­ton does ex­pect to be pushed all the way by Vet­tel as Fer­rari have closed the gap fol­low­ing an over­haul to the sport’s reg­u­la­tions.

“It’s dif­fi­cult right now to say ex­actly who is quicker,” he added. “They are very close if not faster.

“What­ever the case, I can’t wait to go out and com­pete. Just a cou­ple more weeks to go.”

Vet­tel also showed the re­li­a­bil­ity of the SF70H by log­ging a marathon 155 laps to also record the most miles for the day.

But Vet­tel in­sisted Mercedes re­main the firm favourites for the driv­ers’ and con­struc­tors’ ti­tles.

“If you look at how many laps Mercedes have done; look at his­tor­i­cally how slow they go in test­ing, how much they were able to ramp it up for the races then it’s clear,” said Vet­tel.

“They are very fast with their long run pace. They’re the ones to beat.”

McLaren’s mis­er­able prepa­ra­tion for the sea­son, which gets un­der­way in Mel­bourne on March 26, con­tin­ued as elec­tri­cal is­sues saw Bel­gian rookie Stof­fel Van­doorne stop twice out on the track.

Van­doorne com­pleted just 48 laps as once again McLaren and their prob­lem­atic Honda en­gine were left at the back of the pad­dock in terms of mileage com­pleted.

How­ever, McLaren ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Zak Brown re­jected ru­mours that the Bri­tish team could look to break ties with Honda.

“We have a long-term con­tract,” he told Sky Sports.

“We have won a lot of cham­pi­onships with them, they have the right peo­ple, we have the right peo­ple, so we are going to work through it to­gether.”


Lewis Hamil­ton of Mercedes in ac­tion dur­ing pre-sea­son test ses­sions at the Catalunya Cir­cuit on Thurs­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.