Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he feels happier with the progress being made at Mercedes after two frustrating days at Jerez, but admits that there is still a long way to go to get both the car and himself up to speed.
Speaking with the media during an extended lunch break on the fourth and final day of testing in southern Spain, Hamilton confirmed that team-mate Nico Rosberg's marathon 148-lap session on day three had helped claw back some of the time lost to electrical and braking issues on days one and two, but insisted that the development programme would continue to be intense at the forthcoming tests in Barcelona.
"We're not starting in a bad place, which is definitely a big improvement for [Mercedes],” he noted, reflecting on the team's 2012 form, "I wouldn't say [performance] comes easily. We're just able to get the tyres working on the first lap, which they struggled to do last year, but it's not a bad place for us to start.
“We definitely need to work and understand the car more. There's a huge amount of work for me to fully understand - I need to do a lot of studying before I fully understand the car before the season. I've only done 59 laps but, [with] every lap that I drive it, I'm learning. Every change that I make, I'm learning. Every time they refer to some set-up change, I'm learning.
“It's going to take some time, [but] I feel like we have a good platform, a good foundation to work on. I'm just going to keep on asking for downforce and hope the guys keep on doing a great job back at the factory."
Rosberg got to try the first product of the ongoing development work at Brackley when he ran with a new front wing from mid-morning on day three, and Hamilton is clearly impressed with the effort being put in.
"The guys are working in the wind tunnel every day and we have a package that we will have for the first race which is probably being signed off right now,” he revealed, “Whatever we find over the coming weeks perhaps won't be in there for the first race, but it will definitely be there for the races after.”
While world champion Sebastian Vettel
eschews predictions so early in the season, Hamilton is eager to know where he stands.
"I've asked the guys to try and predict it, but they don't know,” he smiled, “We don't know what fuel loads people are on, so it's just a guess. I think we're at the level we're comfortable with, so we couldn't really ask for more. Now they need the direction: they need me and Nico to tell them where they can improve the car and which direction to go.
“I think, in the next test, we'll continue to work on set-up, particularly to understand the characteristics of the aerodynamics. As for me, I'm just listening to the car, just trying to figure out what I need to improve."