With Mercedes having had a tricky start to testing, with a gearbox problem and balance issues hampering its progress, main rival Red Bull has hit the ground running and appears to be in good shape.
Both Max Verstappen and new teammate Sergio Perez have expressed some optimism about the progress of the RB16B as they wrap up their preparations for the campaign ahead.
While world champion Hamilton insists there is no panic at Mercedes over the way its own testing has panned out, he is under no illusions that Red Bull is heading into the 2021 F1 season much improved over last season.
“They’re looking strong,” said Hamilton about Red Bull. “They’ve had some really good running. Max is looking, and both the drivers I think, have been looking quite strong.
“They’re going to be a different machine or animal this year with, I think, a real good strong line-up of the two drivers, and I think, a really good car.
“Having seen them win the last race, you can only assume they’re going to be right there, if not at the front, of the first race. It’s going to be a great long battle with them through the year.”
Mercedes appears to have made some progress with improving the handling of the W12 since its tricky start to the test, but knows that more needs to be done before the first race of the season.
But despite the situation, Hamilton insists that Mercedes is far from worried – and he takes some solace from the fact that problems are always better to be exposed in testing than on race weekends.
“I don’t waste time worrying,” he said. “That deters you from finding the solution, so we are just working hard and focusing on getting through the short amount of testing we have and trying to be as efficient as we possibly can with it.
“I think it’s better when it doesn’t go smoothly, or it’s better that it doesn’t go smooth now and goes smooth once we get into the racing scene. So, this is the perfect time for us to find the issues and have the problems, so I welcome that.
“I think everyone’s just keeping their heads down. No one is phased by it. We are a multi championship winning team, and we know how to pull together and keep our head down, and focus on the job.
“But, without doubt, it is quite impressive to see the speed of some of the other teams.
“I think Red Bull are looking particularly strong. And it’s great to see McLaren also looking strong, also Renault [Alpine]. So I’m excited, also, because that means more fun.”