During the recent test at Barcelona, Lewis Hamilton got a taste of wheel-to-wheel racing against Michael Schumacher. Granted, it was only testing, and the two cars were carrying different fuel loads. Even so, the two drivers staged what was in effect a mock duel which, with any luck, will be a harbinger of things to come during the coming season.
As Hamilton told Autosport, “I had really good fun. I was on my long run, on my last stint, and I caught Michael up. Rather than backing off, I thought, ‘let’s have some fun and see if we can get close to him!’ It was really, really hard work and good to experience what the new car is like when behind people. So I was challenging, I was learning new things and thinking I need to get past him really quick. I managed to get up in the inside of him on one of the corners, and I think he had fun as well – but we were clearly seconds of difference in time [pace-wise] because he was heavier with fuel and I was lighter. But it was really cool.”
Schumacher also admitted that he’d enjoyed the mock race. “It was fun,” he said. “It was interesting to see whether overtaking was possible. Obviously it was not possible as we were in different stages of our runs and tyres. At one point I felt there was no point because I was harming my own situation a little bit. I basically gave way and basically let him do what he wanted to do and I could continue with what I wanted to do.”
It all sounds very amicable. One wonders, however, what their respective tones will be once they’ve had a chance to mix it up in real racing conditions.
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