Lewis Hamilton gained a little pre-season confidence boost after decimating Sebastian Vettel's lap time on the popular television show Top Gear.

The Briton returned to the programme for the first time since appearing at the end of his maiden F1 campaign in 2007, determined to improve his mark in the 'Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car' feature. His previous effort, set in the show's 2003-spec Suzuki Liana, was set on a wet Dunsfold Airfield track and, while being impressive in itself, was comfortably beaten by Vettel when the German took his turn - in the same car on a dry track - 18 months ago.

This time around, there was no stopping Hamilton, as he produced a lap of 1min 42.9secs to not only knock 1.8secs off his previous best, but also go a full second faster than his F1 rival.

"[Vettel]'s had the best car [in F1] for god knows how many years, and he's also the quickest on Top Gear," the Briton had noted with some irritation. His reaction to being told his new time was 'Holy cr*p!"

Hamilton's chances of beating Vettel on track this season will rely on Mercedes' ability to produce a consistently front-running car. Early testing suggests that the reigning champions will have the upper hand, although this week's test in Barcelona should give more pointers towards the coming campaign than the opener at Jerez.

"Everyone is criticising [the move] but, for me, I've been at McLaren since I was 13 and I wanted a change -- I'm a risk taker," he explained.



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