Melbourne: Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has played down his team's "favourites" tag ahead of the season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday, saying technical changes make any predictions worthless. The Briton and his teammate Nico Rosberg have enjoyed the fastest times in off-season testing, leading many to tip Mercedes as the car to beat going into the Melbourne race. But the 2008 champion is not sure Mercedes warrant all the hype as he prepares for Friday's opening practice sessions at the Albert Park circuit.
"All the media are talking us up. Favourite driver, favourite team," Hamilton told reporters on Thursday. "I just don't know what's going to happen this weekend," he added.
Hamilton said a raft of significant rule changes including a return to turbocharged engines, a limit on fuel and new energy recovery systems meant it was hard to say which car would come out on top. "It's very technical this year. Everybody is in the same boat," the 29-year-old said.
"There are lots of us trying to find where the advantages can be."
Hamilton, who finished fourth in last season's drivers championship, added that he was still getting used to the setup of this year's Mercedes. "Last year's car felt better, it was nicer to drive and we had a lot more downforce and that was the car that was in its fourth year of evolution," he said.
"Now we are in a new phase and it's something that takes some time to get used to."
Rosberg finished sixth in the overall standings last year after winning at Monaco and Silverstone. Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel won the drivers championship for the fourth year in a row.