Crash.Net F1 News

Hamilton downplays Mercedes chances

23 February 2013

Lewis Hamilton has moved to downplay his chances of success in the 2013 F1 season, insisting that he doesn't think his new Mercedes team is yet ready to launch a bid for the title.

The Briton moves over to Mercedes this season having spent all of his F1 career to date with McLaren, the team that has guided him since he was still competing in karts.

Some of his rivals have suggested that Hamilton will still be a contender for honours this year in his new surroundings, despite the fact that Mercedes has secured just as single win since taking control of the Brawn GP team.

However, Hamilton said he felt it was too early to be thinking about the title, and that the team had to simple focus on scoring points at the start of the year and then work to improve.

"I think that people are talking us up at the moment," he told the media during a briefing at Catalunya yesterday [Friday] on the final day of testing. "(Sebastian) Vettel and Fernando (Alonso) are saying that we're going to compete for the World Championship but I really don't see that happening.

“Of course that's our goal, but you've got to remember the car was over a second, sometimes two seconds, off the pace last year. We haven't caught two seconds up and the other teams will have put another second on [the gap] this year, so we've not gained three seconds. That's just a fact.

"Hopefully by the end of the year, we'll have gained three seconds - that's our goal. But definitely not at the beginning.

"We're not looking at wins at the moment. We're hoping to get into the points and fight for top ten."

The 2008 title winner added that Mercedes was well aware of what it needed to focus on in order to make improvements.

"The car isn't fast enough to be quickest over one lap but it's not slow, that's for sure,” he said. " The engine is our strong point, but our weak point is the downforce; we need more downforce.

“That is what everybody is pushing massively hard for. The team won a race last year so they've not such a bad foundation in terms of the mechanical side of the car. But in terms of downforce, that's where we need to improve."