Formula One: Hamilton praises 'awesome' new Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton speaking at the 2017 Mercedes Formula One car launch at Silverstone on Feb 23, 2017.
Lewis Hamilton speaking at the 2017 Mercedes Formula One car launch at Silverstone on Feb 23, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

SILVERSTONE, England (REUTERS) - Lewis Hamilton declared his new Mercedes "pretty awesome" on Thursday after lapping a blustery Silverstone circuit in the car he hopes will secure him a fourth Formula One world championship.

"It felt incredible," added the Briton, who finished runners-up last season behind retired team-mate Nico Rosberg.

"Yesterday was the first time seeing the car come together. It's the most detailed piece of machinery I've seen so far in Formula One.

"The car feels wider, which it is obviously. The front tyres obviously feel huge," added the 32-year-old, who won 10 races in 2016 and starts the season with a new team-mate in Finland's Valtteri Bottas.

Formula One has undergone big rule changes over the winter, with wider front and rear tyres and different aerodynamics designed to make cars faster, more aggressive and harder to handle.

Lap times should be several seconds quicker than 2016 with cornering speeds putting more G-force on the drivers, who have had to bulk up and add muscle.

Bottas, who has joined from Williams following Rosberg's decision to retire only days after taking the title, has yet to win a grand prix.

He has already said that he is not intending to play second fiddle to his team-mate, however, and the pairing start on equal terms.

"I think I have done the most amount of training of any winter so far. I have done some good training camps and feel in the best shape I've ever been, definitely ready for the season ahead," said the Finn.

The new car was first presented to fans online, with the drivers pulling the covers off the W08 behind closed garage doors before it was wheeled out to the media on the Silverstone straight.

The team were then set to complete a limited 100km filming day in the afternoon with both drivers taking a turn.

"The dominant feeling in the team right now is one of excitement - the factory is buzzing with anticipation," said team boss Toto Wolff, whose team have won the last three drivers' and constructors' titles.

"It has been a really motivating challenge to develop a brand new car concept and I have never seen our determination to succeed higher than it is right now."

Testing will start in Barcelona on Monday, with Bottas doing the first stint before handing over to Hamilton for the afternoon.

The new season starts in Australia on March 26.