sport

Hamilton's reasons to be cheerful

Lewis Hamilton is hoping to reward Mercedes for all the hard work he can see going on behind the scenes in a bid to turn the team into winners.

Hamilton completed another productive day behind the wheel of the W04 for his new team on the second day of Formula One's second pre-season test at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

The 28-year-old comfortably topped the day's lap charts with 121, with his best of one minute 22.726 seconds good enough for fourth fastest on a timesheet headed by his replacement at McLaren in Sergio Perez.

Overall, in his last two days in the car, Hamilton has now clocked up 1205 kilometres (748 miles), laying to rest the demons from his first outing when he suffered a rear brake failure that pitched him into a tyre barrier at Jerez a fortnight ago.

Impressively, Hamilton's time was set on the hard Pirelli compound, in contrast to Perez's time of 1:21.848s on the softs.

In between the duo were triple world champion Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull, 0.349s behind Perez, and Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen who was a further half-a-second down on the German, both on mediums.

Overall, Hamilton is confident he and the team "are going in the right direction".

He added: "It's so encouraging to see the amount of work that's going in, to see the atmosphere there (at the factory) and how determined everyone is.

"I've a great group of guys behind me. I'm sure they've been working hard over the years.

"But I've only just arrived and immediately I see just a fantastic determination and effort going in. I hope it all pays off."

Whilst Pirelli are proving themselves to be as good as their word this year as they promised compounds would be half a second per lap quicker than those from last year, the high degradation is proving a concern for all drivers.

Hamilton claims looking after the tyres "isn't easy", whilst Perez feels the wear is "a big surprise", adding that "normally in testing we see a lot of degradation, but never this much."

Tyres have been the least of Raikkonen's worries, however, as he was limited to just 43 laps today by a gearbox issue which needed changing.

After managing only 44 laps yesterday due to a data issue, the Finn concluded his two days' running far from impressed.

"If yesterday wasn't an ideal day then today was more of the same," said Raikkonen.

"Fortunately, once we were able to get a lap in we could see the car has good pace.

"We test to find any problems so in that respect we're doing a good job, but it's frustrating.

"It's no secret we want to get more laps on the board and that's the target for the rest of this test and the final sessions next week."

On the second of his three successive days behind the wheel of his Ferrari, Fernando Alonso was 1.399s down on Perez.

Compared to his 110 laps from yesterday, the Spaniard only managed 76 laps today due to a problem with an exhaust pipe that curtailed his running.

Valtteri Bottas, on his maiden outing in the new Williams FW35 that was unveiled yesterday, finished a further 0.314s adrift of the double world champion, and was happy with the performance of the car.

"Straight out of the box I knew we had made a step forward from last year, and I am looking forward to working to develop the car even further," said the rookie Finn.

"It's great to know we have a really good base to start from. There are still a number of areas we can improve, so I'm really excited for the season ahead."

Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo was seventh quickest, followed by Paul di Resta in his Force India, the Scot 2.123s off the pace, ahead of former team-mate Nico Hulkenberg now driving for Sauber.

The bottom two, and again lagging behind, were Marussia's Max Chilton and Charles Pic in his Caterham, 3.267s and 4.395s adrift respectively.