Ferrari is downplaying its title chances after a strong pre-season testing in Barcelona, according to Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.
Ferrari enjoyed eight competitive days of winter testing in Spain, with the Scuderia showing strong pace and reliability.
However, unlike previous seasons where Ferrari has been publicly vocal about their on-track targets, it has decided to keep this matter internal this year.
Hamilton believes is is simply a case of Ferrari keeping a lid on their expectations for 2017, and believes the Maranello-based squad has the fastest car at the start of the year.
“I see Ferrari being the quickest at the moment,” Hamilton said in Thursday's press conference. "I think they will definitely be the favourites, but we'll find out going into the weekend. Sebastian's usually a lot more hyped, and I can tell he's trying to keep a lid on it.
Hamilton was also eager to see the upgrades Red Bull has brought to Melbourne after the Milton Keynes-squad had a fairly low-key pre-season test with a simple-looking RB13.
“I’m very keen to see what Red Bull bring because they were quite far behind through testing, at least compared to Ferrari and didn’t see them bring many upgrades – or an upgrade as far as I could see. So I’m assuming they’re bringing something here which I’m excited to see what they do bring.”
One of the prevailing issues with Formula 1 has been a lack of teams fighting at the front, with Mercedes winning all but eight grands prix since the start of the hybrid era in 2014.
Although Mercedes’ dominance of the sport had aided Hamilton in winning back-to-back titles, he would like to see more teams fighting for the championship.
“I agree with Daniel in the sense of having more teams and more drivers up at the front fighting for wins, that’s what racing is all about. I’m hoping that’s the case,” he said.
“We, as a team, I don’t believe, as far as I know, no team has won back-to-back through rule regulation changes, so that is our goal as a team. We’re here to win, we’re here to do something no-one else has done.
“Whether or not we’re in the right place at this moment in the season, we’ll find out. But I have every belief in my team that we can do that.”
by Rachit Thukral