BARCELONA: Defending champion and series leader Lewis Hamilton outpaced Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg to top the practice times on Friday (Saturday in Manila) despite feeling worried about his car’s inconsistent performance in gusty winds at the Circuit de Catalunya.
The 30-year-old Briton conceded that he was concerned by the set-up of his car and the conditions.
Asked if he was happy with the balance of the Mercedes, Hamilton replied: “At the moment I’m not.
“I don’t really know why. It felt very inconsistent throughout the lap because the wind is up and down. In some places you’re getting gusts, but sometimes you’re not getting a gust.
“Sometimes it’s over-steer, sometimes its under-steer.
“So that makes it very difficult to find the set-up. I don’t know if there is less grip because this is what we started with today — it’s like Melbourne.”
Hamilton added that he was also concerned at the determined manner in which Rosberg had applied himself on Friday.
“I think he’s going to be quick. I just need to be quicker,” said Hamilton who has won three of the four races this season, opening a 27-point lead.
Driving with his usual elan and precision, the two-time world champion clocked a best lap in one minute and 26.852 seconds to finish almost half a second clear of nearest rival four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.
Rosberg, given a reprimand during the morning for infringing the pit-lane entry lines as he worked his way to the fastest lap of that session, wound up seven-tenths of a second back in third place.
The reprimand was his first since last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
“All in all it was a good day. I have to say, for the race especially, it was looking pretty good, especially compared to Ferrari, which is important, and compared to Lewis, it was close,” said the German.