For Mercedes, Formula One’s pre-season testing programme was as much about their new teammates building a relationship with each other as well as their cars.
Regardless of that, both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg impressed on the track in Barcelona, with Hamilton setting the fastest lap time on the third day and Rosberg following suit on the fourth with an even better time.
Despite soft tyres and a low fuel run, Hamilton clocked one minute 20.558 seconds – then a record at the Circuit de Catalunya – to make the rest of Formula One sit up and take notice.
With the new Mercedes recruit priced at 10/1 to clinch a second World Championship crown and first since 2008 there have been plenty of admiring glances in his direction.
Now beginning his fourth season at Mercedes, Rosberg swept aside any concerns that he was going to be overshadowed by his new teammate by beating Hamilton’s time the following day.
The German – who finished ninth last season and won the Chinese Grand Prix – set a blistering time of one minute 20.130 seconds on the final day in Barcelona, taking over 0.4 seconds off Hamilton’s time and clocking the fastest lap of the winter in the process.
At 50/1 for a first world title Rosberg may find it a little tough to keep pace with the favourites at the top, but his combination with Hamilton could help the revamped Mercedes team towards a tilt at the Constructors Championship, for which they are priced at 16/1.
With the season starting in Australia on March 17th, there will be high hopes from Mercedes that the pair can improve on the team’s two drivers championships and 10 race successes in Formula One.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.