Reigning world champion tips Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams to have raised their game.
Lewis Hamilton ended his planned Barcelona test programme on Saturday evening and believes that Mercedes’s nearest rivals will give him a “harder fight” in 2015.
Hamilton was third fastest in testing today, but didn’t attempt any low-fuel runs or the super-soft Pirelli tyres in a qualifying simulation.
“I’ve not been looking at the others,” he said when asked where the opposition was going to come from. “Everyone is on different tyres, different fuel loads.
“It’s like juggling blind. That’s what I love about this sport. I anticipate a harder fight this year.”
Hamilton, who was still suffering from a head cold that forced him out of the cockpit on the opening day, did elaborate on where he expects the challenge to come from.
“It looks like the Ferrari has potentially picked up their pace, Red Bull is just as quick and improved their engine maybe, and Williams are gonna be there, but I’d imagine they’d made a step, but so have we. Time will tell how big a step they’ve made compared to us.”
More answers in final test
Hamilton will get back behind the wheel in the second – and final – Barcelona test, which starts on February 26.
“We will get a bit of a better understanding next week, when everyone brings their upgrade for the first race,” he said. “Then you get to the first race, and it’s all different, because the tyres start working better and the track gets better.”
He also had a critical word for Pirelli, when it came to judging their performance in testing.
“We could do with more days, we could go with lots more good tyres, better tyres, that work all the time when you go out and pound around,” he said. “The tyres don’t really work very often, they don’t for me at least.”
Hamilton hands over to Nico Rosberg for the final day tomorrow.