The Silver Arrows kicked the tyres and lit the fires in Barcelona this week, successfully wrapping the first official F1 test of the season.
After unveiling their box fresh 2017 spec machine – the W08 EQ Power+ - at their home circuit of Silverstone in the UK, Lewis Hamilton, and new signing Valtteri Bottas zeroed in on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalyuna, in Spain, for four days of shakedown, race simulation, and test work.
All in, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Team completed a whopping 558 laps (2,597km) – that’s roughly ten Monaco Grand Prix back-to-back. What’s more both Lewis and Valtteri topped the time sheets separately on the first and third days of the test, setting up high hopes for the season ahead.
The Silver Arrow’s lap count and performance is made all the more impressive, when you consider the major rule reset faced by all F1 teams for 2017. Fatter tyres, wider running track, and super aggressive aero all mean the drivers can spend more time at maximum throttle, and potentially shave off multiple seconds per lap, in comparison to previous generation cars.
Three time F1 Champion, and global athlete, Lewis Hamilton was impressed with his first test of the year, setting the pace on the opening day of running; and relished the opportunity of getting to grips with his faster 2017-spec car.
“It's been a great test so far for the team. Everyone at the factory has worked so hard to build a car that goes the distance,” said Lewis. “As always on these test days we're trying to get through as much as possible, in terms of reliability.
“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. It's so much faster in the corners. The force you feel on your body and on your neck is much higher. I've got bruises and bumps where I've never really had them before. Physically I feel fine though. I've trained enough over the winter to be ready for more.”
Finnish hot shoe Valtteri Bottas, who replaces outgoing champion Nico Rosberg, in the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport squad, also impressed with his form behind the wheel of the W08 EQ Power+. Despite working flat out to get to grips with a new team and new car, Valtteri topped the time sheets on the penultimate day of running.
“I some laps at Silverstone for filming, but now this is proper testing,” Valtteri told us. “It was very special to do the first few proper 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. I've really enjoyed working with the team this week. Once again, all the mechanics and engineers have done a great job, and thanks to everyone at the factory, because the car has run so well.”
"There’s such a massive hype at the moment," Rosberg said. “So I wanted to see it first hand as well, see the new cars. They look absolutely monstrous, very very aggressive, and everybody's excited and that's great to see.
"The drivers are loving it, and I think this year they will be proper gladiators out there, with these cars, because the cars will take them to their physical limits. "We might even see drivers losing race wins because of just being 'game over' physically - and that's what we need."
Testing continues next week in Barcelona, from Tuesday March 7th. Stay tuned.