Hamilton on top after pre-season testing

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets after the first round of pre-season testing, but team-mate George Russell has warned fans not to take the lap times too seriously (Hamilton 6/4 to win the Drivers’ Championship).

Hamilton, who narrowly missed out on an eighth world title last season, set the best lap time late on the final day in Barcelona.

The former McLaren driver left it late on day three of testing as he surpassed Russell, who had set the pace during the morning session.

The Mercedes duo finished ahead of Red Bull pair Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, with Hamilton’s fastest lap timed at 1:19.138, with Russell’s 1:19.233.

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Hamilton completed 94 laps during the first round of testing, but even though Ferrari and McLaren failed to top the timesheets, former Williams driver Russell (11/2 to win the Drivers Championship) expects them to bounce back.

He told BBC Sport: “Lap time-wise, I don’t think it’s representative at all.

“Even though we are top of the timesheets, I wouldn’t read too much into it.

“We have some improvements to make, as we’re not fully happy with the balance of the car and the limitations we have currently. But we have a good indication of the direction we need to go in.”

Like Russell, Hamilton says it is hard to judge where his team is after round one, but he was happy with his progress.

He said: “It’s been an interesting few days. It’s not been the easiest or smoothest running. We have had some obstacles to overcome.

“We would always want more laps, but I am happy with today – we have had 100 laps, which for a half-day wasn’t too bad.”

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