Formula 1 - Hamilton: Merc exceeding expectations

Lewis Hamilton says his Mercedes team is "way ahead of where we thought we would be" after topping the third day of Formula 1 testing in Bahrain.

The 2008 world champion set the fastest time on Friday, as Mercedes worked through different set-ups on the F1W05.

Mercedes lost some track time due to mechanical issues on the car, but Hamilton played down the effect of this.

He feels the team is still on the right track as it heads towards the end of the second of three pre-season tests.

"We feel quite blessed that we've done the amount of mileage we've already done," said Hamilton.

"We're way ahead of where we thought we would be, and compared to some others.

"We see it [the loss of track time] as a blessing because we find an issue and then we know it's got to back to the drawing board, and if there's a small pump or something they've got to go and redesign or fix, that could have gone in Melbourne and caught us out.

"So I'm glad that all these bugs are coming. I want to find more and more. I want to damage the car and break it as much as possible so they can fix it before the races."

Hamilton also played down his team's status as potential favourite for the world championship this year, despite the progress made with its new car.

"We're just focusing on ourselves," he added. "Generally, every time we go to a test one team will build the focus up on another team just to take the focus off themselves.

"Everyone's done it so it doesn't really mean anything to us. We just continue to focus on our own programme and try to continue to move forward.

"This year it's difficult to know where everyone is. Some people are doing 10 laps, some people are doing long runs, but the good thing is Mercedes seems to have done a fantastic job.

"The power unit is really performing well and we're constantly getting miles on it. That's a real good step for us.

"We're just working on the car step by step, but we won't know where we are until we get to Melbourne."