26/02/2013 11:08 GMT | Updated 24/04/2013 06:12 BST

Hamilton Plays Down Mercedes Praise

Lewis Hamilton's move to Mercedes may have taken some fans by surprise but the British champion has been realistic every step of the way--from announcing his move to the expectations he has for the 2013 season.

As testing continues in Barcelona today, Lewis topped the time sheets in a rain-impacted session but he's realistic about his chances telling reporters:

"Vettel and maybe Fernando were saying I'm maybe going to be competing for the world championship, but I really don't see that happening at the moment.

"Of course that's our goal but you've got to remember the car was over a second off, sometimes two seconds off, last year and we've not caught a second up.

"And other teams will have put a second on over the winter. So we've not gained three seconds, that's a fact.

"Hopefully by the end of the year, that's our goal, but definitely not at the beginning."

Mercedes were troubled by a fire and a crash in the first test a fortnight ago in Jerez Spain but testing is the time to vet the 2013 chassis and determine if there are any major reliability issues or performance concerns.

Having spent some quality time behind the wheel, Hamilton feels that the car may be competitive but not running at championship form just yet. Mercedes spent the last three years trying to raise its game with seven-time champion Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg but were unable to fight at the sharp end of the grid.

Friday's test was marred by rain in the morning but it did give the teams a chance to run the intermediate Pirelli tires and that's a key to this season's performance gains--tire management.

McLaren's Sergio Perez stated earlier this week that the new compound tires Pirelli have developed for 2013 are experience large amounts of degradation and they are a complete surprise to him as well as the other teams. Perez suggested that the tires lose significant grip after just one lap and that has some concerned about the aggressive nature of this year's compounds.

For Pirelli's part, they did say they were going to offer a real "surprise" for 2013 and it seems they have.