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F1: Hamilton hungry for more with new Mercedes

February 13, 2019 15:47 IST
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Lewis Hamilton

IMAGE: Mercedes have also won the last five constructors' championships.  Photographs: Lewis Hamilton/Instagram

Formula One champions Mercedes ran their new car for the first time at Silverstone, on Wednesday, with title holder Lewis Hamilton saying he felt 2019 could turn out even better than last season.

With some other teams racing against time to get their new cars built and ready for the start of pre-season testing in Spain on Monday, Mercedes made sure they were on track in every respect.


Hamilton's Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas performed the initial shakedown laps as part of a 100 kilometre filming day, with five-time world champion Hamilton due to be in the car during the afternoon.

"I completely switched off from racing for a while, trying to focus and re-centre myself and training hard for the new season. 2018 was a great year, but I feel like 2019 can be even better," Hamilton said.

"I want to achieve more, I want to continue to keep pushing. I feel energised and I'm ready to attack."

The Briton won 11 races last year on his way to becoming only the third driver to win five titles and with a career tally of 73 wins is now only 18 off Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 91.

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton has also won 51 of the 100 Grands Prix in the V6 turbo era that started in 2014 and four of the last five championships.

"The buzz really starts at the beginning of the year when you see the car coming together. And then you get to the shakedown and you get into the car -- it just never gets old," he added.

Mercedes have also won the last five constructors' championships but team boss Toto Wolff warned that rule changes could shake things up.

"We're taking nothing for granted and there's absolutely no feeling of entitlement to be at the front," he said.

"In fact, with the regulation change for the new season, every team can have a shot at the title and we're seeing all of them as a potential threat."

Mercedes said the new car, sporting a similar silver livery and branding to last year's model, had changed substantially under the skin.

Technical director James Allison said the team had worked hard on the suspension and aerodynamics to deliver a car that would be kinder to its tyres than last year and remain competitive at every track on the calendar.

"Components that we felt were stripped to the bone in 2018 have been taken, one by one, and subjected to a further round of aggressive analysis to shave further weight from them," he added.

"Collectively each of these victories add up to a handful of kilos that have been invested back in the car on aerodynamics, suspension and power unit to bring performance."

Mercedes said changes had been made to the cooling architecture of the power unit, making it more efficient and also bringing aerodynamic benefits.

Some 7,000 drawings were turned into components and cumulative testing of the parts amounted to around 500,000km before the car had even left the garage for the first time.

The season starts in Australia on March 17.

Williams cancel shakedown in rush to be ready for testing

Williams have cancelled plans to run their new Formula One car for the first time on Saturday as they rush to be ready for the start of pre-season testing in Spain next week.

The former champions, who finished last overall in a dire 2018 season, are not the only team racing against time, with Renault also working flat out to complete their car.

Both teams held livery launches at their factories in England this week but the cars on display were essentially last year's models with fresh paintwork and branding and new front wings.

"We have had an extremely aggressive engineering programme over the winter," said Williams deputy principal Claire Williams on Wednesday.

"As such, we have taken the decision not to run our car during our filming day this weekend in order to allow the team to maximise the time at the factory before we head to Barcelona for the first day of the test on February 18."

Champions Mercedes have had no such headaches, the team running their new W10 for the first time at Silverstone on Wednesday.

Formula One teams always operate to tight margins in designing and building cars, seeking to maximise development time, and this year has seen significant new aerodynamic regulations come into play.

Renault are also due to have their car on track at the Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday but team boss Cyril Abiteboul told reporters that was looking uncertain.

"It's super-tight," the Frenchman told reporters of the timing.

"As we speak, we are 100 percent sure of nothing," he added when asked whether the team would be ready for the start of testing.

"There will be two drivers, they will be there if you want to have a chat and a coffee. We should have a motorhome and a coffee machine working, but that is as far as I am 100 percent sure."

Abiteboul said time spent in the wind tunnel had a direct impact on performance but Renault, fourth overall last season and hoping to close the gap to the top three, might have to be more conservative next year.

"You don't want to turn up and have to shake down your car and realise that there is something that isn't working. It is a balancing exercise," he said. "We have been a step too far, and we will maybe have to review it for next year."

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