Lewis Hamilton expects a “great, long battle” with Red Bull after the Austrian-based squad had a strong outing in this year’s pre-season testing, with their drivers regularly topping the standings throughout the event, with Pérez at the top this morning.
“They can be favorites if they want,” Hamilton said. “I mean, they’re looking strong. I don’t really focus on that kind of stuff and they’ve had some really good running, Max [has] – both the drivers have – been looking quite strong.
“They’re going to be a different machine or animal his year with, I think, a really good, strong line-up for two drivers and a really good car.”
Hamilton believes the Honda-powered Scuderia will be a real challenger this year after seeing them win at Abu Dhabi last year.
“Having seen them winning the last race you can only assume they’re going to be right there if not at the front, at the first race, and it’s going to be a great, long battle with them through the year,” Hamilton said.
The Briton also talked about Mercedes’ performance, saying the team recovered from what was a detrimental start to the pre-season.
“I feel like we made a decent recovery. I can’t say we fully achieved the mileage that we wanted for the three days but actually, not that far off.
“Yesterday we made 95% out of it and today 100%. We had a really solid day with a good amount of laps and quality tests considering what happened on day one. How day two and three went, I’m pleased… but now it’s time to turn that data into performance somehow in the next two weeks before the race,” he concluded.