Defending champion Lewis Hamilton went into a silent spin on Wednesday as the first test of the 2015 pre-season concluded at Jerez.
The Briton was back in his silver Mercedes for the last of four test days in southern Spain, just as news hit the celebrity headlines about his latest split from long-time girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger.
Mercedes’ PR team made it clear questions about Hamilton’s private life were not welcome at Jerez, but elsewhere, pop-star and actor Scherzinger confirmed to the Mirror: “I’m devastated that it didn’t work out.”
Hamilton was silent on the topic but he did spin the new W06 car, leaving observers like Times correspondent Kevin Eason wondering if “the break-up of his relationship will have the same effect that dizzied his senses on each of the three previous occasions he has split up with the singer”.
At the top of the times, yet again, was the surprisingly dominant new Ferrari, driven on Wednesday by Kimi Raikkonen.
New team boss Maurizio Arrivabene, however, joined those who sense that Mercedes may be sandbagging.
“In terms of performance, I don’t think our competitors – one in particular – have shown their true potential over these past days,” he said.
“I think we will only discover the truth about them and about ourselves at the last Barcelona test session.”
Like Mercedes, another 2015 favourite keeping a low profile at Jerez has been the similarly-powered Williams, but Felipe Massa said the Grove team wants to take on its dominant rivals this year and aim for wins and the title.
“They (Mercedes) seem to be very good, so it is on them that Williams must focus,” he is quoted by Brazil’s Globo.
“Really it’s too early to say anything. Actually it’s impossible,” Massa added.
“Ferrari does seem to have improved not only the car but also the engine, but we will only know who will be the opponents after the second Barcelona test.
“Only there will teams run with low fuel, to see how the car behaves when it is light,” he predicted.
It is possible, then, that Ferrari has already taken fuel out of its new SF15-T car.
“My engineer told me that Ferrari is on a different programme to us,” Hamilton said on Wednesday. “Their runs were much shorter.”
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