Hamilton and Vettel at odds over tyre test's importance

Sebastian Vettel believes his lengthy testing of 2017-spec tyres gave him a boost in Melbourne, but Lewis Hamilton dismissed its importance.

Lewis Hamilton dismissed the importance of his inexperience on 2017-compound tyres compared to Sebastian Vettel, having lost to the Ferrari star in the F1 season-opener in Australia.

Mercedes lost the race on strategy as a decision to pit Hamilton after 17 laps on ultrasoft tyres left the Brit struggling behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, with Vettel able to pull a gap over five more laps before making his solitary stop.

Toto Wolff later suggested that Mercedes' pit wall had been guilty of misreading the condition of Hamilton's tyres.

Vettel put in 2,228 laps on 2017-spec rubber in a Pirelli-led test last year - by far more than any other leading driver - Hamilton completed just 50 - and the German believes a greater understanding may have given him a slight advantage last time out.

He told a news conference ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix: "If there is an opportunity to test, even though it can be dull, you're driving the car. It's better than sitting on a bike training to be fit enough to drive.

"Track time is limited so every opportunity you get... it's personal but I can understand why you would reject it.

"There's always something you learn. The days I did with Pirelli, for feedback for the tyres, for sure they also helped me."

Hamilton, however, gave any significance short shrift, saying that the modified versions of F1's 2016 cars used in the test were too far away from this season's machines to give the tests any authority.

"I'm so glad I didn't do that testing, because the car is so different," Hamilton told Autosport.

"I did a few laps in the Abu Dhabi test in the 2015 car and it was so much different to this car. It would have been a waste of my time. I'm glad I didn't do it. It made no difference.

"The fact is the [mule] car had so much less downforce and it was lighter than the car we have today, so it wouldn't have put the tyres in the same window.

"The stuff I would have learned then, I would have to undo it and learn again."

 

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