Lewis Hamilton feels Mercedes have made a step forward after a torrid time at the pre-season test in Bahrain two weeks ago. The reigning champions followed a proactive approach in the free practice sessions and were able to display impressive speed throughout the day.
Lewis Hamilton, however, was quick to confirm whether his team had made a step forward since the pre-season test:
“I definitely do. We’ve done a lot of work coming into the past week and I think we have taken a step forward. But we’ve still got more to do."
"With tires and downforce reduced, the global balance has just shifted and it’s not where we wanted. This weekend it’s looking better but still not perfect so we’re just working as hard as we can… I know we still have a hill to climb but we’re staying positive."
The seven-time world champion also spoke about Red Bull's pace during the practice sessions:
“We thought Red Bull would be as fast as they are, if not faster so we know they’re leading at the moment. McLaren is looking great and it’s great to see them taking the step. It’ll be interesting to see how the long runs are.”
The long runs and qualifying trims have made it tough to pick between the two teams. While Max Verstappen led the timing charts in both sessions, it remains too close to call between the teams. Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes also seems to have better long-run pace than the Dutchman's Red Bull.
Lewis Hamilton not looking to retire soon
In what is expected to be a season-long battle for his record-breaking eighth Formula 1 title, Lewis Hamilton appears excited and ready to face the challenge of fighting Max Verstappen in similarly paced machinery.
He previously stated that going up against Verstappen has reinvigorated him to focus more on the sport.
On questions around his future beyond the 2021 season and his retirement, Lewis Hamilton said he was not looking forward to leaving the sport yet.
However, things happen fast in Formula 1. If the Mercedes-Lewis Hamilton partnership is not able to win the title in 2021, it could be interesting to see if the seven-time world champion sticks around at the team.