Four-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton visited the Mercedes factory at Brackley for one last time before heading off to Australia for the season-opener at Albert Park during the March 23-25 weekend.
In the post-test debrief, the British driver was confident of success in the new season as he hoped to win Mercedes, its fifth consecutive constructors' title, as well as his individual fifth drivers' championship.
"When I come to the factory at the beginning of the year and see the car being designed and built in all these different areas, I am always fascinated," he started. "The parts are brought together and make such a work of art.
"I am just amazed at what everyone is able to achieve and I can only say that it is the greatest feeling in the world when I get to that first test and get in the car. I feel incredibly blessed to be one of only two people to get to drive this machine.
"Everyone's done an incredible job and I want them to know we'll be giving it everything going into the first race and hopefully get the best of the Bulls and Ferraris. It's really encouraging, being my sixth year with the team, to see how motivated everyone is.
"I think that's something we all have in common. Everyone's continuously pushing to better themselves, their work and take it to the next level. The unity I have seen develop at this team over the years, there is nothing like it.
"It is hands down the best team because we all work together, and that's really inspiring for me. I will give it everything this season, title number five is the ultimate goal. Let's go for it," he signed off.
Reliability wise, Mercedes has already shown its hands completing 1,040 laps between Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Even on the race simulations done during the second Barcelona test, the team were lapping quicker than Ferrari and Red Bull Racing.
However, the fuel loads at the time of testing were unknown as well as other parameters on the car. While Ferrari and Red Bull put themselves on top of the standings after posting quick times on the hypersoft compound - the lap time set by the Mercedes drivers on the ultrasoft tyre seemed quicker when converted into the hypersoft range.
In the post-test press briefings, Hamilton mentioned about Ferrari and Red Bull's pace during the two tests and felt that they will pose a huge challenge to the German manufacturer, but he remained upbeat about his chances after driving the W09.
About the Author
Darshan Chokhani is a FIA Accredited journalist covering both Indian and International championships, including Formula 1, MotoGP, Formula E, World Endurance Championship and more. Although specialising in motor racing, but follows Cricket, Tennis, WWE and events involving Indian athletes.