03 March, 2018
The four-times world champion, who will begin the defence of his title in Australia on 25 March, completed 69 laps and set the fastest time of the week.
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"I was really happy to get out today, to be honest", Hamilton told reporters at the end of the day's session at the Circuit de Catalunya. "To get a feel for the new vehicle and so far it is positive. But the W09 feels like last year's big sister." .
But Vettel, 30, hopes Ferrari can narrow the gap again and score Ferrari's first title triumph since Kimi Raikkonen won the world championship back in 2007. He was, he insisted, keen for another tight competition with the German.
"It's hard to say whether the car's that much better or how much of that is the track and how much is the grip".
"I want to make sure that I can bring that championship back to Maranello".
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Hamilton also acknowledged the test marked the start of his bid to take a fifth title, which would match Juan Manuel Fangio's achievement.
The track was finally good enough for slick tires after four hours of uninterrupted running - with the lunch break cancelled to allow teams maximum track time after this week's weather - and times dropped in the afternoon session. World champion Hamilton clashed regularly with Vettel as Mercedes and Ferrari battled it out for supremacy in F1 last season. "It was really important for the team and also for myself to be able to learn so much".
As was the case previous year he was eager to insist his rivals had the early advantage. "But I would say that about anyone, its nothing about Valtteri". Closer than past year would be great.
Considering they are by far the most well-known constructor, and the only team to feature in every F1 season since its inception, that is an awfully long time without silverware. "That's generally what all the drivers will think". Limited answers. Still a lot of questions that we carry into next week. "It is only March now, but we will keep going until the end of November when the season ends". "But for that we need to run". They lost time when a wheel came off on day one and to an exhaust issue damaging wiring on day two.
Despite only completing 94 laps over the course of the opening test, compared to his teammate's 212, the Briton left Barcelona last night aware that he has an overall advantage of 0.34 over Sebastian Vettel and on harder tyres. However, to achieve this Vettel used soft tyres, which were faster than the rubber used by Hamilton (at least in theory). There was another red flag in the afternoon when Max Verstappen went off in a Red Bull.