As we count down to the Australian GP, the Mercedes GP drivers of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg give their thoughts alongside Paddy Lowe
Lewis Hamilton: “There’s still more to come from me”
“Testing was just incredible – the best I can remember in my career. The car feels even better than last year’s from both a performance and reliability perspective, which is saying something. It’s all so refined in every area and we can be really proud of what we’ve achieved over the winter.
“Together, we’re always searching for perfection. But that target is always shifting and you’re constantly faced with new challenges to reach it. Just as you think you’re close, suddenly you fall further back – like someone dangling a carrot on a piece of string and whipping it away just as you reach for it. It’s tough mentally – but that’s a good thing, as it forces you to be resilient and seek improvement in every area. I know there’s still more to come from me – I think I’ve shown that in the past two years. There certainly needs to be some extra in my tank, as the competition will be stronger than ever this year?
“There are a few things that will make it even more challenging for all of us this season, too. The changes to the radio rules will have a big impact. The engineers now can’t give you prompts or reminders that might affect performance during the race, so you have to remember so much more. This even applies to strategy, so when it’s shifting throughout the race you won’t be in the loop. It will be tough – but hopefully it will make for more exciting races.
“Now we head to Melbourne and the first to chance to see how all this plays out on track. I can’t wait to get started.”
Nico Rosberg: “I’ve never felt more ready to go”
“This is always a massively exciting time of year. Testing is important, of course. But what every driver really looks forward to is unleashing a new car flat out for the first time. I’m already itching to get back out there – getting to know our latest Silver Arrow and pushing on, making progress with it.
“Limited testing gives everyone a big challenge, as you have to be efficient and make more of that time than anyone else. It’s even tougher when you’re the benchmark, as you need to invent while others can invent and copy. But we’ve done our homework and I think it looks set to be a good year again for us. The level of build quality in the car – how it all fits together and all the little details – is just awesome.
“It’s so impressive how the team keeps on pushing, aiming to be better all the time. Of course, we all know that Ferrari are right there with us and maybe some of the others will be up there too, so we have to keep pushing. But it’s good to have that competition. With the team we have I believe we can keep them behind.
“I’m really hoping to bring back a couple of wins from the first flyaways to reward everyone at the factories for their hard work. There’s such a positive vibe in the team and everybody gets so excited. I know they’ll be cheering us on at home every weekend, so it’s our responsibility to deliver for them.
“I’ve had a great winter and done a few things differently for this year. I’ve never felt more ready to go. It’s going to be a great battle.”
Paddy Lowe: “We have no definite sense of how we measure up to the competition”
“Firstly, congratulations to the team at Brackley and Brixworth on an incredible achievement in the delivery of this car. We saw an unprecedented level of reliability during pre-season testing, with over six thousand kilometers completed. That’s almost the same mileage in eight days as we achieved across twelve days last year, demonstrating clear progress in our ability to prepare for a new season. However, it’s still early days, and there are no Championship points for testing.
“What’s equally pleasing is to see evidence of continuous innovation. Innovation drives us forward – and it’s clear to see on our car that nobody in the team is resting on their laurels. But while we were pleased with our performance in Barcelona, we have no definite sense of how we measure up relative to the competition. This creates tension – but mainly excitement to see where we stand.
“The first qualifying session of the year is, for me, the most exciting hour of the whole Formula One calendar. This is where you get your final exam marks for all the hard work over the many months needed to put together a new car. It’s the first time we see all of the cars and drivers on the limit – gloves off, flat out. Once you get through qualifying and see where you stand, good or bad, a lot of that winter tension is relieved and translated into plans for the future. Whether it’s maintaining a gap or closing on a target ahead, the objective becomes clear.
“After an intense winter, the team enjoys arriving in Melbourne. There is a great buzz as the paddock gets back to work, with new kit, some new faces and this year even a new team. We also have some significant new sporting regulations concerning tyre compound choices, driver communications in the race and qualifying format. Put together I am expecting these changes to create far more variation, uncertainty and excitement for the fans, while testing even further the ability of Nico, Lewis and the race team to perform under pressure. We’re looking forward to it!”