Hamilton shaken by nightmare first test

BRITAIN’S Lewis Hamilton admitted suffering a “pretty heavy” impact after he crashed just 15 laps into his first testing session with his new Formula One team Mercedes yesterday in Spain.

A braking failure left Hamilton unable to prevent the car hurtling headlong across the gravel and into a tyre wall, and brought to a premature and abrupt end the outfit’s track time for the day.

The 2008 world champion shrugged off the incident in Jerez, insisting it was better to have identified the problem before the season begins in Australia next month, but conceded to being slightly shaken.

“[The impact] was pretty heavy but it wasn’t as bad as I've experienced in the past,” the 28-year-old said.

“We damaged the car a little bit and as all the new stuff is still being built we didn’t have too many spare parts to be able to change it, so they are working on it tonight.

“I’m just glad that firstly I’m safe and that it’s happened now, not when we’re in the season or something. This is what testing is about. It’s about getting through those development phases, errors or whatever they may be and working on them and that’s what the guys are doing.”

Yesterday’s crash represented a nightmare start to Hamilton’s new career with Mercedes, having made the controversial decision to leave McLaren, his home since the age of 13, last year.

It also continued a dreadful week for the team, after an electrical problem left Nico Rosberg’s car in flames and restricted the German to just 11 laps on Tuesday, the first day of pre-season testing.

Rosberg is set to resume testing today, with Hamilton, who despite his limited track time posted the sixth fastest lap yesterday, not due back behind the wheel until tomorrow.

Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Lotus was quickest, ahead of Force India’s Scottish driver Paul di Resta and Australian Daniel Riccardo of Toro Rosso.

His countryman, Red Bull’s Mark Webber, was fourth, German Nico Hulkenburg fifth on his Sauber debut, Hamilton sixth and his replacement at McLaren, Mexican youngster Sergio Perez, finished seventh fastest.