pack closer to Mercedes, says Hamilton
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[March 17, 2016]
By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The gap between
Mercedes and the rest has narrowed and Ferrari "have something up their
sleeve" at this week's season-opening Australian Grand Prix, according
to champion Lewis Hamilton.
Mercedes enjoyed a near-flawless pre-season testing but Ferrari
also showed promising pace to raise their hopes of ending the Silver
Arrows' reign after two dominant seasons.
"I think this year the whole pack looks a bit closer. I think they
have something up their sleeve this weekend," Hamilton told
reporters at the pre-race media conference at Albert Park on
"I think they have a lot more than they are talking. They have
arrived on the low, but are going to deliver high."
Ferrari's four-time world championship-winning driver Sebastian
Vettel said he believed the Scuderia's new car could challenge
Mercedes for the title.
Both teams notched up plenty of laps at the Barcelona testing, with
Mercedes showing itself the most reliable car and Ferrari setting
But Mercedes' true pace remains very much a mystery with the team
not focused on posting fast laps during the off-season.
Hamilton, bidding for a fourth world title, said he might have hoped
to have done more performance laps at the Circuit de Catalunya and
suggested the team had kept their powder dry.
"But we did what we had to do and I guess we went into the testing
with a goal of achieving 800 km a day," he said.
"We didnít actually think we were going to do it so perhaps in
hindsight we would have shifted our running. But at the end of the
day, it suited us perfectly."
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Hamilton kept his social media accounts busy in the leadup to his
Melbourne arrival, with a string of chatty posts from his travels in
New Zealand, where he toured Auckland and the mountain resort of
The trip sparked a couple of minor controversies, with Hamilton
tweeting a highly critical post of his visit to an Auckland casino
and posting a video of himself riding a Harley Davidson motorcyle
around the city.
Using mobile phones while driving is illegal in New Zealand and
local police reviewed Hamilton's video before announcing they lacked
"sufficient evidence" to take further action.
Hamilton, a road safety ambassador for the sport's governing body
FIA, was grilled by a British journalist about his responsibility as
an example for young drivers.
"I donít have much of an answer for you, unfortunately,Ē he replied.
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)
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