Hamilton bullish on day two
McLaren star happy but says Red Bull have the edge
Last Updated: February 23, 2012 9:13am
Former World Champion Lewis Hamilton believes McLaren could have a car to seriously challenge for Formula 1 honours this season.
Hamilton enjoyed a second highly-productive day at the wheel of the MP4-27 at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya in the second pre-season test.
After completing 114 laps on Tuesday, the 27-year-old Briton rattled off a high of 120 laps on day two, and although only sixth on the timesheet, Hamilton said he was impressed with his car's feel at high speed.
"To have completed more than 1000 kilometres in the past two days is incredibly encouraging. The whole team should feel proud."
Lewis Hamilton Quotes of the week
With a full race simulation behind him, Hamilton said: "To have completed more than 1000 kilometres in the past two days is incredibly encouraging. The whole team should feel proud.
"The car behaves really well in the high-speed corners. I think the baseline of our car is higher than it was last year, and it's better overall at high speed.
"It's been an extremely productive few days, and I think Jenson (Button) will continue to improve the car tomorrow.
"Now I'm just looking forward to the final test (in Barcelona from March 1-4).
"It's where you get a really good feeling of where the car will be. It's also exciting because it's the last stop before the first race."
Hamilton joined current champion Sebastian Vettel in performing a race simulation in the afternoon, with the pair circulating in close company at one stage before the Red Bull driver overtook his rival.
Vettel's times gradually fell compared to Hamilton's and although the latter said tyres and relative fuel levels were factors, he also conceded that Red Bull may have an edge.
"I think we were out at similar times doing the runs. I was always on used tyres; I think he started on new tyres in the second couple of stints," Hamilton said.
"But generally he looked very, very competitive - perhaps a little bit faster than us. Again we don't know what fuel loads they were on, it's much too early to say.
"But when I was behind him, his car looked like it was handling quite well...I think you would say the Red Bull was probably the quickest at the moment."
Force India's Nico Hulkenberg was quickest overall with a lap of one minute 22.608secs set on Pirelli supersoft tyres, 1.198secs ahead of Hamilton.