The Silver Arrows are locked and loaded for the flag drop on the first Grand Prix of the year in just under two weeks’ time. Having bossed pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Cataluña, Lewis Hamilton and fresh signing Valtteri Bottas topped the time sheets in both the first and second weeks of running.
The duo also led the way in terms of mileage – logging an impressive 1,096 laps in their new Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport ride – the W08 EQ Power+. Put another way, that huge lap count – or 5,102km (3,170miles) – is the equivalent to 16.6 Grand Prix at the 2017 season opening venue in Melbourne, Australia.
“It's been a busy winter for us. I don't remember how it was last year but this felt like a good couple of weeks. We're working together better than ever as a team and Valtteri has done great to blend in and do a solid job,” explained Lewis.
Eyeing his fourth world title, Lewis knows exactly how real the challenge is this year, especially given the huge technical rule changes this year. “The others seem quick, so it looks like we have a good battle on our hands,” continued Lewis. “Ferrari have been doing a fantastic job. I think there's more to come from them but their pace here has really been spectacular. I don't know if Red Bull had their full package here. Usually they bring that to the first race but they're definitely still up there and I expect a serious fight with both of those teams.
“I've never wished to dominate. But of course, I want a car that I can go out and fight for a Championship with - for the fans it's best when there's multiple teams fighting for it. I'm happy with what we've gained knowledge-wise and feel confident we got everything we needed from this test to go out and fight in Melbourne.”
Valtteri Bottas – who got his first proper taste of Silver Arrows power at the official pre-season tests in Spain, also shared his team mate’s quiet confidence.
“It's been so nice over these past two weeks to see how we operate as a group, both on and off the race track,” Valtteri told us.
“Thanks to everyone in Brackley and Brixworth for creating this beautiful package. I hope we can extract the maximum from it straight from the word go in Melbourne. We've been testing lots of things, so it's going to take a long time to analyse everything that we've done. I've had a massive learning curve over these eight days and that will continue but I can't wait for the start lights to go out in Melbourne.”
The action gets going in Australia from Friday March 24th, with open practice one, while the main 58-lap event will boost off the line on Sunday 26th March. Take a look at the timetable of action below, and then don’t forget to check back with us for exclusive reaction from Lewis and Valtteri after the chequered flag.
Friday 24th March
Practice 1 - 12:00 – 13:30
Practice 2 - 16:00 – 17:30
Saturday 25th March
Practice 3 - 14:00 – 15:00
Qualifying - 17:00 – 18:00 (6am GMT / 7am CET)
Sunday 26th March
Race - 16:00 – 18:00 (5am GMT / 6am CET)
*All times local to Melbourne Australia