First Formula One test leaves questions to be answered

Lewis Hamilton is cautiously optimistic over the performance of his new Mercedes auto having finally managed to achieve some meaningful running on the final day of Formula One's opening test in Barcelona.

We could go to Melbourne now and just go for it - I just want to race! he said.

We know that Mercedes and Ferrari are really strong, but I'm pretty happy with the auto so far.

The Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver completed sixty-nine laps on Thursday and set a best time of 1:19.333s to lead the way, finishing 0.521 seconds clear of Stoffel Vandoorne, but the reigning World Champion was just happy to finally get some significant running in after three disrupted days.

Lewis Hamilton, a four-time Formula One world champion, said that his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas will have no excuses this season. "I don't normally like testing but we hadn't had many miles so I was keen to stretch the legs on the new vehicle and so far it is positive".

The Briton, who had done only 25 laps earlier in the week after snow and rain wreaked havoc with the schedule, completed 69 more with a fastest time of one minute 19.333 seconds using the medium Pirelli tyres. Hamilton felt the new W09 seemed a much better auto than last year's "diva", a nickname bestowed on it early on by team boss Toto Wolff for its sometimes twitchy and temperamental behaviour. So far it's positive. "I've only had 60 laps but it definitely feels like a better auto than past year". "But I would say that about anyone, its nothing about Valtteri". I've seen a couple of them on track but I've not even really seen their livery.

He said: "It's hard coming to a new team and learning new ways, new controls".

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You just focus on getting through the run plan, keeping the auto on track, learning as much as you can and giving constructive feedback so the guys at the factory hearing everything you say can work on everything.

The team also managed to get more laps in than title rivals Ferrari, which will no doubt please Toto Wolff and co.

Asked if he wanted a closer fight, he replied: Definitely. As simple as that.

"You want to be able to show that, and it's magnified if the cars are all the same".

Times were now improving rapidly and sure enough it wasn't long before we saw the first slick runners of the day, with Nico Hulkenberg and Bottas opting for the dry rubber right around midday.

The Sky Sports F1 Digital team will be providing live commentary from dawn until dusk for every day of the final test while Sky Sports News will also deliver live updates from trackside.

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