BARCELONA: A happy Lewis Hamilton topped the times in both sessions yesterday as he and his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg dominated opening practice for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The Mercedes pair were fastest overall at the end of the afternoon with Hamilton setting the pace and reveling in his form and his role as a settled senior member of the German outfit.
His speed, he said, showed he was in “a good place”.
He said: “It really means a lot to me to feel that I am an integral part of this team and I love the huge energy that goes into the car and working with the engineers.
“It gives me a really special feeling. These guys, the engineers, they can do anything and it is up to us to help by ‘steering the bubble’ and me and Nico, we do it together.”
As he bids for his first Spanish Grand Prix triumph this weekend after three consecutive victories, Hamilton said he was aiming to grab the 34th pole of his career and make sure he can stay out of trouble with back-markers on a circuit where it is difficult to overtake easily.
“Pole is always important, but it is especially so here because it so difficult to get past people, especially those with a Mercedes engine!”
The smiling 29-year-old Briton added that he felt “pleasantly surprised” by the pace of his car in the afternoon practice after making changes to his set-up following a less-satisfying morning, when he was also fastest.
The morning session saw Rosberg, who leads the championship thanks to winning the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and then finishing second behind Hamilton three times, struggle with engine problems.
In the afternoon, however, Hamilton stayed on top, lapping nearly half a second faster than his Mercedes team-mate and showing that, in his second full season with the team after leaving McLaren, he is fully settled and fast.
Defending four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel was reduced to only four laps early in the morning session after his Red Bull car was halted by electrical problems. Hamilton clocked a best lap of one minute and 25.524 seconds in Mercedes before switching to a display of speed on a long ‘race spec’ run. AFP