Hamilton notes 'impressive' Lotus
Lewis Hamilton says that the new Lotus E20 "looks quite impressive" after his first day of testing in Jerez.
Hamilton set the fourth fastest time in the new MP4-27 but was 0.8s off the pace of Romain Grosjean's Lotus which led the way for the 2012 cars. When asked if he knew who was in good shape out of the competitors, Hamilton admitted that it was difficult to tell before singling out the two new cars ahead of him on the timesheets.
"Not really," Hamilton said. "I think you can see the Red Bull looks quick, the Lotus looks ... quite impressive ... you don't know what it's up to but it looks pretty quick, but you never know what fuel loads people are on. But I think we've been pretty aggressive with our fuel loads."
When pushed on Grosjean's lap time he added: "It looks like a good qualifying time to me."
Focusing on his own car, Hamilton said he had been encouraged by the baseline of the McLaren and thinks the car has potential.
"I was a bit cautious going in to today just looking at the times Jenson was experiencing the last couple of days I wasn't really sure where we would be today but when I got the new tyres on I was able to extract the grip quite easily and felt that yeah, definitely there's something we can work with.
"This car is definitely not predictable at the moment being brand new and we haven't yet figured out the right setup of the car. There's lots of different test items that we're still going through, so I wouldn't say the car is more predictable than it was last year but it generally feels like an evolution of last year's car in many ways, but also there's some things where you've lost - for example the downforce at the rear - it's not as good as it was through the high-speed corners as it was last year but I'm sure we'll get that back."
When asked about the difference between the MP4-27 and last year's car, Hamilton added that the car was stable under braking but was noticeable different in two specific areas that would affect tyre life.
"I was quite surprised today, we were still able to have quite a bit of downforce. Definitely traction is not as strong as it was last year so you have to be a little bit more cautious there, and in the high speed you can't be as aggressive as you could be last year when we had the blown diffuser the downforce we had was incredible. So to have lost that but then to come back and still have quite a good baseline; it's just the degradation of the tyres is probably going to be worse this year, at least for the beginning of the season."