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Lewis Hamilton makes 'rare' offer to test 2018 Pirellis for Mercedes

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After showing reluctance to do the same last year, Lewis Hamilton has put himself forward to sample Pirelli's 2018 compounds at Paul Ricard this week.

Much has been made of the fact Hamilton opted against taking part in Pirelli's extensive mule car programme last year, designed to prepare the Italian manufacturer's wider tyres for the new regulations. By contrast, current title rival Sebastian Vettel made use of the opportunity on numerous occasions last year, something many in the paddock think has helped to give the German and Ferrari a small edge in this year's championship fight.

Mercedes has struggled to extract the maximum from its tyres at times this season, struggling at places like Sochi and Monaco. Though usually adverse to the idea of testing, Hamilton has volunteered himself to be at the wheel of Mercedes' run at Paul Ricard -- the venue of the returning French Grand Prix next year -- later this week.

"I'll be doing a test later this week, which is very rare for me, I'm not a tester," Hamilton said. "I'm looking forward to it, I offered to do it, so I'm looking forward to that - kind of."

The test will run on Thursday and Friday, with Valtteri Bottas taking over from his teammate on the second day. Bottas has already conducted one day of 2018 tyre testing at the post-Hungarian Grand Prix sessions.

Unlike last year, which saw Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull supply mule cars to Pirelli and share testing responsibilities, all ten teams will sample the 2018 compounds during this season. Although the 2017 tyre tests took place with unmarked compounds, the teams which did not take part have suggested there was an advantage to be gained for the three which did.

Mercedes will be the seventh to conduct its official test day. Sauber and Force India will remain in Mexico City after the Mexican Grand Prix to conduct theirs, before McLaren completes the schedule after the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.