Lewis Hamilton stresses no-one should read anything into Mercedes’ laptimes in the opening two practice sessions for the Australian Grand Prix, downplaying claims the team has a clear advantage.

The reigning world champion topped the timesheets in FP1 and FP2 around the Albert Park circuit, with Mercedes more than eight-tenths clear of the field in the latter session.

Hamilton insisted the Silver Arrows “weren’t talking BS” heading into Melbourne when it estimated it was half a second slower than Ferrari.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel joked that the team’s theory about their pre-season difficulties was “bullshit”, but Hamilton doesn’t believe Mercedes has any form of edge over its rivals.

“If you look today at how close it is, even the mid-pack is really close, so I would say – even more than ever before – there’s even less margin for error,” Hamilton told reporters after Friday’s running.

“That’s how it’s supposed to be. That’s what we get paid the big bucks to do is to pull out those milliseconds to try and make the difference, so I’m super stoked and excited for what’s to come.”

Hamilton is aiming to register his sixth consecutive pole position on Australian soil come the first qualifying session of the season.

After grasping more of an understanding of how the new cars handle under the new regulations, the Briton was full of praise for the precision of these new breed of machines.

“I really have a positive buzz from driving the car today,” he said. “These new cars – the flow is unbelievable. It’s how Formula 1 cars are supposed to be when they’re wide and they’re big.”