Formula One: Lewis Hamilton hails 'awesome' new Mercedes

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton (left) and Valtteri Bottas posing by the Mercedes W08, the team's new car for the season starting on March 26. Testing will start in Barcelona on Monday and team boss Toto Wolff has said that Mercedes are "buzzing with
Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton (left) and Valtteri Bottas posing by the Mercedes W08, the team's new car for the season starting on March 26. Testing will start in Barcelona on Monday and team boss Toto Wolff has said that Mercedes are "buzzing with anticipation".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Lewis Hamilton declared his new Mercedes "pretty awesome" yesterday after lapping a blustery Silverstone circuit, 129km north-west of London, in the car he hopes will secure him a fourth Formula One world championship.

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

"Yesterday was the first time seeing the car (which has a black, silver and teal chassis) 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."

The 32-year-old won 10 races out of 21 last year 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.

PERFECTION

It's the most detailed piece of machinery I've seen so far in Formula One.

LEWIS HAMILTON, on the new Mercedes race car.

Lap times should be several seconds quicker than last year with cornering speeds putting more G-forces 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 Hamilton, however, and they 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 shivering 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 driver's and constructor's 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 season starts in Australia on March 26.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Hamilton hails 'awesome' new Mercedes'. Print Edition | Subscribe