Lewis Hamilton says it has been an encouraging start to 2020 for Mercedes but it must “keep churning out as many miles as possible” as he paid tribute to the work completed at the team base over the winter.

The reigning Formula 1 world champion hopped into the Mercedes W11 following the lunchbreak on the opening day of pre-season testing, taking over from Valtteri Bottas who completed 79 laps in the morning, as Hamilton went on to top the timesheet thanks to a 1m 16.976s with 94 laps to his name.

With trouble-free running straight out of the blocks, Hamilton poured credit on his Mercedes team as he felt clear progress with its 2020 F1 car despite concentrating on stacking up the mileage before refining the W11 package and extracting performance.

“It’s been a good day and a really good start for all of us, considering we had a long break,” Hamilton said. “So to come back and clock in over 170 laps just shows how hard everyone has been working over the winter.

“We will just take it one step at a time, getting good feedback from the car. We have a lot of data to download and analyse and we’ve got to keep pushing on.

“A huge thank you to everyone back in Brackley and Brixworth for the incredible effort that's gone in over the winter to make sure we come here and have a car that's reliable to start with so we can get this mileage done.

“I hope everyone back at the factory is happy with how the day went and we’re just going to keep churning out as many miles as possible.”

Mercedes technical director James Allison also reported no issues with the debut of the new car while both Hamilton and Bottas were impressed by the “sweet handling characteristics” from the W11.

“That was a very positive start to our winter testing campaign, with both drivers able to get a very decent amount of work done through the day,” Allison said. “We were able to tick several of the procedural items off our list that we need to get done before Melbourne and also run through some of the main set-up items on suspension settings today.

“We’re happy that alongside the good reliability we’ve shown today, both drivers have reported the car to have sweet handling characteristics and are looking forward to leaning on it a bit harder over the next several days of testing.”

Mercedes will rotate the order its drivers take to the track for the second day of the first pre-season test, with Hamilton in action for the morning session before Bottas takes over in the afternoon.

 

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