'Rivals wrong to talk up Mercedes'
Lewis Hamilton played down his Mercedes team's chances of challenging for the Formula One championship on Friday after rivals had talked them up.
Speaking to reporters on the wet and cold final day of the second pre-season test at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, the 2008 world champion dampened any excessive optimism about his prospects.
"I think that people are talking us up at the moment," said the Briton on a day of frequent interruptions and limited running due to the bad weather.
Hamilton said Red Bull's triple world champion Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso had tipped Mercedes to compete for the title, something he disagreed with.
"I really don't see that happening at the moment," Hamilton added while pointing out that Mercedes, who won one race last season with Germany's Nico Rosberg, were more than a second and sometimes two off the pace in 2012.
"We haven't caught two seconds up and the other teams would have put another second on over the winter, so we've not gained three seconds. That's just a fact," he said.
"Hopefully by the end of the year, we'll have gained three seconds - that's our goal. But definitely not at the beginning."
Hamilton won four races last year with McLaren, the team he has raced for since his debut in 2007, but has said before that it will be tough to triumph this season and his sights are more on 2014 when the engine rules change.
He said on Friday that he did not want to have any race wins "gifted" to the team because others had tripped up. "We want to do it through hard work," he declared.
Despite the subdued comments, Mercedes have been doing plenty of laps in Barcelona and Rosberg was the fastest driver on the timesheets on Tuesday. Hamilton did a hefty 121 laps on Wednesday alone.
The season starts in Australia on March 17.