sport

Hamilton hails 'fantastic start'

A delighted Lewis Hamilton has described Mercedes' week in Jerez as a "really fantastic start" to their year.

While Mercedes, who altered their driver schedule for the final day to include Hamilton after Nico Rosberg completed a race simulation in the morning, laid down another 132 laps on Friday to take their four-day tally to a mammoth best-of-the-field 309, Red Bull packed up their bags and left for home just after lunchtime after managing a paltry total of just 21 laps in their overheating RB10.

While Rosberg was at pains to point out that the Jerez test had been a challenge of reliability and the W05 had not yet been tested for outright pace, Hamilton's delight with Mercedes' successful and largely trouble-free sprint out of the box was abundantly clear.

"It has been an amazing week," enthused the 2008 World Champion, who suffered the one notable alarm of Mercedes' test when a front-wing failure sent him spiralling into the barriers on Day One.

"To get the amount of mileage we have has been very encouraging. The biggest positive we can take from here is that the car is reliable.

"We aren't focused on anyone else, we're just focused on ourselves and trying to improve. We want as much data as we can and as much miles as we can.

"We're just taking one step at a time. It's been fantastic, really fantastic."

While the discrepancy between the amount of track time enjoyed by Mercedes and Red Bull at Jerez ultimately proved the central feature of the event, Hamilton, like Rosberg, says the Brackley outfit are not paying attention to the stark travails of their rivals.

"We aren't focused on anyone else, we're just focused on ourselves and trying to improve. We want as much data as we can and as much miles as we can. We're just taking one step at a time," Hamilton re-iterated.

With none of the teams focused on lap times, the final positions in the timesheets were essentially meaningless. For the record, however, Hamilton ended Day Four in fifth place, with a best time of 1:30.822 from his 41 laps.

The second test, one of two to be staged in Bahrain as the teams complete their preparations for the new season, starts on February 19.