F1: Lewis Hamilton calls 2017 Mercedes car ‘a beast’ after topping first Barcelona pre-season test

PUBLISHED: 21:16 27 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:30 03 March 2017

Lewis Hamilton on track at the first pre-season test in Barcelona [Picture: Steve Etherington]

Lewis Hamilton on track at the first pre-season test in Barcelona [Picture: Steve Etherington]

Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton called his new Mercedes 2017 challenger “a beast” after topping the timesheets on the first day of pre-season testing in Spain.

The 32-year-old three-time F1 world champion from Hertfordshire was fastest on day one of the first 2017 pre-season test in Barcelona as the Mercedes team racked up the mileage.

Hamilton completed 73 laps of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with a quickest lap of 1m 21.765s.

After chalking up 340km behind the wheel of the new Mercedes-AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+, Lewis said: “It’s been a good day, a really positive day for the team.

“The car looks fantastic and it feels great. We did lots of laps and collected loads of information today, so we can try to improve the car as we move forward.

“We’ve not done any work to get the balance perfect yet, as today was all about ticking off the list of checkpoints and racking up mileage.

Hamilton loved driving the new spec Silver Arrows.

“I definitely put my body to the test today,” said the Stevenage-born racer. “These test days are like training.

“It was good to feel the wider, beefier car. It’s faster, more physical... it’s a beast!

“You’ve got to drive it a bit differently. It’s so much better than last year’s cars.

“The G-Forces are definitely higher. We’re pulling two more G than we’d usually pull around here.

“There’s so much more downforce, which is something you always want as a driver. You always want to go faster through the corners.”

Today’s programme focused on aerodynamic and vibration data analysis, followed by long runs to better understand the performance of the 2017 Pirelli tyres, with both drivers completing similar programmes.

Hamilton was impressed with the new tyres.

He said: ”The tyres are so hard that they don’t drop off. Most likely we’ll be doing more one-stoppers.

“Normally you get a lot of degradation with these tyres – but these ones don’t degrade. They’re very consistent, and there’s not a big difference between the feeling on the first lap and the last lap.

“Over the next few days we’ll start to look to improve the car. I still think we’re the team to beat – but we have a lot of work ahead of us to do, the same as every single team on the grid.

“Right now we’re just focusing on our own job to do the very best that we can.”

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport kicked off the first winter test of the 2017 season with Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton taking turns at the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+.

Silver Arrows new boy Bottas emerged for his first run as the track opened at 9am, completing 79 laps, before the hour-long lunch break at 1pm.

Hamilton took over in the cockpit for the afternoon session, completing 73 laps before the pit lane closed at 6pm.

Lewis Hamilton being interviewed at the first pre-season test in Barcelona [Picture: Steve Etherington]Lewis Hamilton being interviewed at the first pre-season test in Barcelona [Picture: Steve Etherington]

After completing his first test day for the team, Bottas said: “It was a very good first morning for us. We were doing quite a lot of mechanical tests, checking systems, while trying to do mileage.

“We did 79 laps, more than a race distance, which is very good for the first morning of running.

“If we are going to face any issues with the car I hope we can face them now. That’s why we did more than a race this morning. That was our target.”

He added: “We worked on long-runs, trying to gain all the information we could from these conditions. We didn’t really care at all about lap times today. As a team we still have many more important days ahead of us.

“The main thing to do is to get the mileage in and the car had no issues. The guys have done an amazing job over the winter.

“I only started just over a month ago, but the way the car has been running is impressive. It’s a good feeling.

“I did a few laps at Silverstone, but now this is proper testing. It was very special to do the first few laps. This is a new era for Formula 1.

“The car feels very different to last year. You can definitely feel the impact of the new regulations – the increased loads, the bigger, heavier cars, and more grip. I think they look great.

“They’re great fun to drive and they’re fast in the corners, too. Racing is still unknown, but so far so good.

“Physically the cars feel more demanding, but luckily I am well prepared for the season ahead.”

Hamilton will take the wheel of the W08 tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, with Bottas behind the wheel in the afternoon on the second day of pre-season testing in Barcelona

• 2017 Pre-season Test 1, Day 1 Times

1 Lewis Hamilton (44) Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport – 1:21.765

2 Sebastian Vettel (5) Ferrari – 1:21.878

3 Felipe Massa (19) Williams –1:22.076

4 Kevin Magnussen (20) Haas – 1:22.894

5 Daniel Ricciardo (3) Red Bull – 1:22.926

6 Valtteri Bottas (77) Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport – 1:23.169

7 Sergio Perez (11) Force India – 1:23.709

8 Carlos Sainz (55) Toro Rosso – 1:24.494

9 Nico Hülkenberg (27) Renault – 1:24.784

10 Fernando Alonso (14) McLaren – 1:24.852

11 Marcus Ericsson (9) Sauber – 1:26.841

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