Published: Sat, May 13, 2017
Sport | By Cecil Buchanan

Hamilton fastest as Mercedes step up the pace

Hamilton fastest as Mercedes step up the pace

Hamilton, speaking before the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend, said the form Bottas had shown came as no surprise while insisting their Mercedes team had no intention of favouring either driver in their battle for the title with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton led team-mate Bottas in the pair of sessions, with the duo recording the quickest times on the Medium and Soft tyres, ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen.

Behind the two pace-setting silver and red teams, last year's race victor Dutch teenager Max Verstappen was fifth fastest ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

But that the Silver Arrows improvements have worked so quickly may leave their rivals concerned that they will dominate for the rest of the season, as they have for the previous three years.

Hamilton goes on to say the rate of development with the W08 has been significant, describing it as "night and day" compared with pre-season testing.

So far, they appear to be working well, and Hamilton and Bottas traded times throughout the session, rarely separated by more than a few hundredths of a second. "It's tough, but tougher for McLaren, who bring updates trying to find a millisecond here and there and we can not even run".

"I hope the upgrade will give us a chance to really fight with Mercedes and Ferrari or at least get us closer", said Ricciardo.

"And now it's done all I want to do is to go and win again and again", said Bottas.

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Vettel said: "I'm not happy". "I struggled a bit with the vehicle balance in general so conditions today seemed to be quite challenging". "I didn't get everything together, I wasn't too happy but I can feel the auto is quick so that is good".

"Getting that win has definitely given me a lot of confidence that I can do it - because I always thought that I had the ability".

"I hope tomorrow, whoever that was, will disappear".

Alonso was back at the track for the second session, but had to wait for almost half an hour before he could get out on track while an engine change was completed.

"Today was quite a shocker, if you look at the long runs", he said.

Though scheduling the Russian Grand Prix immediately before the Spanish Grand Prix adds an exciting geopolitical element to proceedings, the latter remains Formula One's official return to Europe. "I had a very short glimpse and everybody was struggling with the conditions".

"If you look at Bahrain, for example, the Red Bulls drove as slow as they could on the laps to prepare for qualifying but still had the tires ready whereas the Ferraris were flat out through the warm-up laps so there's a different approach for everyone".

If that wasn't enough to put Maranello under pressure this week, rumours that Red Bull Racing's RB13 will undergo such change that it would be better classified as a prototype RB14 than a mere B-spec auto will have Italian brows furrowed with concern.

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