World champion shakedown: Lewis Hamilton

World champion 2008, 2014, 2015, 2017

What’s been your role in the development of the new car? “I’m not in the engineers’ office, I’m not designing – my job is to explain weaknesses and put that into a feeling, and into words. Our role is taking what we’ve got then taking it to the limit. The numbers could be perfect, even in simulations, but the simulator doesn’t give you the same sensations as driving around the circuit. We have in-depth debriefs and those sessions have been very useful in the development of the new car. Only Valtteri and I speak in those sessions, so they have been very useful.”

What issues have you addressed? “There’s a different aerodynamic characteristic from last year. Hopefully we’ve found a compromise that will favour the majority of circuits. Some of the ride and roll issues we have, some floor characteristics, will hopefully be improved a lot, too. But everything is new. The suspension is new. The car will be quicker this year.”

Are you expecting tougher competition this season? “Yes. When Red Bull turned up last year it had no furniture [aero bodywork], so development was very steep but the team finished very strongly. Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull ended last year very similar, so coming into this year I think you’ll see a tougher battle. Maybe there’ll be another team too, maybe McLaren.”

What can we expect from your team-mate this year? “This is the first evolution of last year’s car, so Valtteri will sit in the same seat, have the same controls and none of the learning will need to be done. So that means he’s already comfortable. It’s a car we both developed through last year. It’s our driving DNA fused into one. I hope he’s more comfortable. It’s not moved away from me, I’ll be on top of that.”