Lewis Hamilton says the Mercedes W07 is very much an evolution on his 2015 championship-winning car and he is getting a similar feeling with it after the first morning of pre-season testing in Spain.

The defending F1 world champion has been handed the honour of turning the first laps in the W07 at the Circuit de Catalunya and says he immediately felt at home as he began to discover a firm base set-up with the new car for the remainder of testing.

Due to largely unchanged technical regulations in 2016, Paddy Lowe says the majority of updates Mercedes has applied to the new challenger are evolutions on the existing parts with a series of 'mini revolutions' in the power unit.

Hamilton has reiterated Mercedes technical chief's comments and is delighted with the feeling he immediately got from the new F1 car.

"It is a great start to the first day of testing and the guys have done an amazing job to get the car together," Hamilton said. "It feels like home. It feels like last year's car. It is an evolution of last year's car and feels very much the same which is a good thing and means we have a good foundation to work from."

The three-time F1 champion also says he's not been keeping too close an eye on his rivals during the morning session, after Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheet, but is keen to understand the development paths of his title contenders and how they match up with Mercedes.

"I haven't looked at the other cars but heard a lot of whispers here and there with things going on between us and Ferrari so it will be interesting to see how the two have developed from last year," he said.