Triple-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton says that Ferrari were hiding their real speed, following fellow former world champions Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel blitzed the competition in posting by far the fastest times in F1 pre-season testing over the past two days.
The German Vettel clocked 1min 19.024sec around a sun-kissed Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona on Thursday, despite appearing to ease off in the third sector of his fastest lap.
Hamilton was three-tenths slower on the same ultra-soft tyre compound used by the Vettel. Finn Raikkonen then smashed his team-mate’s time by posting 1min 18.634sec to dominate the morning session of the final day of testing yesterday.
“I think Ferrari are bluffing and that they are a lot quicker than they are showing,” said the Englishman.
Mercedes have dominated for the past three seasons, with Hamilton and now-retired world champion Nico Rosberg winning all but two of 21 races last year.
However, despite his skepticism, Hamilton does expect to be pushed all the way by Ferrari when the new 20-race season begins on March 26.
“It’s difficult right now to say exactly who is quicker,” he added. “They are very close, if not faster.
“Whatever the case, I can’t wait to go out and compete. Just a couple more weeks to go.”
But The Four-time world champion Vettel insisted that Mercedes remain the firm favourites for both the drivers’ and constructors’ titles. “If you look at how many laps Mercedes have done; look at historically how slow they go in testing, how much they were able to ramp it up for the races, then it’s clear,” he said.
“They are very fast with their long run pace. They’re the ones to beat.”