While his new Mercedes teammate George Russell was getting the first opportunity to drive the W13 at Barcelona, Hamilton spent time eyeing up the competition during a wander through the pitlane. 

Hamilton spent time observing all the cars but was particularly interested in Red Bull’s radical new challenger as he paused outside reigning Max Verstappen’s garage. 

Indeed, the RB18 grabbed plenty of attention when it broke cover in public for the first time on Wednesday, revealing an extremely aggressive sidepod design when reigning world champion Verstappen emerged out on track. 

Pre-season testing can often feel like a mundane and laborious affair for the drivers, but F1’s revolutionary rules reset has sparked huge intrigue. 

That sense of excitement was shared by the seven-time world champion, who was beaten to the title last year by Verstappen in the infamous Abu Dhabi finale that remains shrouded in controversy. 

“It’s probably one of the most exciting and interesting seasons that I have ever embarked upon,” said Hamilton. 

He added: “I think every year is exciting but of course, in the previous years it was an evolution of the previous year’s car. In this one, it’s completely brand new. 

“I’ve seen the designs of our car over several months. But now seeing everyone’s car out there, you are just trying to get a close eye seeing what’s different and if there’s anything, why certain teams have chosen certain routes in terms of sidepod designs and front wings. 

"It will be interesting to see where everyone comes out and where we stand at the start of the first race.”

There had been fears that the new 2022 cars would look very similar in design, but it has now become clear that scope for interesting development solutions exits. 

Teams have offered a wide variety of sidepod and front wing solutions, two areas in particular that have piqued the interest of the drivers. 

“It is exciting,” said McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, who will get his first chance to drive the MCL36 on Thursday. “I think the more years you do, the less excited you are to test, but the more excited [you are] to go racing. 

“It’s definitely the most excited I’ve been in a while to go winter testing and the curiosity to see what direction teams have gone.

“And just visually, the cars look really cool. Just the whole stance of them this year as well. For a long time, high rear ride heights, this sort of stuff, it all seems to be just a different way for this year. 

“Even just seeing the philosophies around that is cool. Even seeing stuff like renders compared to real, that’s exciting to see on track.”

Meanwhile, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez said it is “very interesting to see the different approaches from different teams”. 

F1’s new generation of cars have been designed with the intention of improving the racing and creating a more competitive grid and Hamilton hopes the world championship can achieve its goal. 

“I do hope that these rules deliver what Ross [Brawn, F1 motorsport director] showed us years ago in terms of closer racing,” he said. “It definitely puts everyone hopefully on a more level playing field.” 

But Hamilton was quick to dismiss the suggestion that Mercedes could have gone in the wrong direction with its 2022 concept. 

“My team don’t make mistakes,” he stressed. “Of course, there is always a risk, but we don’t make mistakes.” 

With just one day of pre-season testing complete, it is impossible to draw any real conclusion into who has got the new rules right (or wrong) and how the pecking order could shape up this year.

Lando Norris was quick to play down McLaren’s prospects after he topped the opening day of running in Spain. 

“It’s way too early to tell anything,” Norris explained. “Of course now we’re P1 and everyone is going to think we’re going to win the race, but no chance. 

"It feels good, I think we made some good improvements already from the beginning of the day, but we’re only in day one of the season and even if we’re amazing now everything can change by the time we get to the first race. 

“Everything can change by the second. The rate of development that everyone’s going to bring to the first half of the season is going to be extremely high. I just hope it’s fast, it feels good. 

“There are definitely many things to work on, some things not feeling so good, but for a new car and something we never drove before - for so many new things - I think it was a decent start.”