Published: Sat, March 03, 2018
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

Hamilton: Hard to assess 2018 Mercedes F1 auto

Hamilton: Hard to assess 2018 Mercedes F1 auto

After losing valuable track time in the morning because of cold conditions, Mercedes stated it did not want to waste minutes swapping its drivers.

At the front, Vettel was only getting quicker, and set the fastest lap of the day (1:19.673) on the soft tyres, eventually finishing over three-tenths ahead of Bottas in second. 'Mileage is king in #F1Testing, so we want to make the most of the current conditions.

The circuit opened for business shortly before midday, but it took a few more hours before the teams completed any significant running due to the high risk of damage to their cars.

"Having said that I don't think everyone else supports the extension of the test".

American team Haas F1 used Magnussen for the day, and the Dane had a disgusting time, almost striking the barriers at turn 4, and conducting limited mileage that he could not change until the team made limited modifications to the auto.

"It's very hard to get the tyres to work and I think everybody is having the same issues".

"It was only 3-4 degrees, the asphalt is 10 degrees, so it's very, very cold".

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"Have we made a step forward in terms of performance? The limiting factor was the weather".

Red Bull are hoping their new auto can help the Australian and his Dutch teammate, Max Verstappen, close the gap on Mercedes in 2018.

At least this time we know it's not Honda's fault!

However, the Finn was satisfied with the work done as Mercedes focussed on understanding the aerodynamics of the new W09 EQ Power+, moving on to longer stints in the afternoon before snow prematurely stopped serious running. It follows a wheelnut failure for Fernando Alonso on Monday and means the team's lap count is just 19 laps higher than the same time a year ago when it was struggling with Honda reliability issues.

"The tyres are just not made for these conditions".

It's hard for me to say a whole lot about the auto because I did not drive it for a long time, but the initial feeling is good. Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne took his McLaren-Renault to third fastest of the day, despite staying in the garage due to an overheating exhaust system. Not ideal considering they hardly got a massive amount of laps in yesterday, but it's far from time to panic at this stage.

The opening winter test concludes on Thursday with four further days of practice next week before the new season gets under way in Australia.

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