Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg say they aren’t concerned that rivals may out-develop their Mercedes Formula 1 team this season, putting pressure on them to not drop points early on.
Mercedes has won the first four races of the F1 2014 campaign and would likely have a maximum score but for Hamilton’s early retirement from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
This weekend’s Spanish GP comes after a three-week break since the previous race in China, and will likely reveal which teams have the best handle on how to develop their new machines.
Mercedes has generally struggled to maintain pace with other top teams in the development race since returning to F1 in 2010, but former team principal Ross Brawn said at the end of last season he felt the squad had turned a corner in this regard. Hamilton and Rosberg both believe Mercedes has what it takes to maintain its advantage at the front of the field.
“We’re not sitting comfortably; we know we’ve got more work to do,” said Hamilton when asked if he was concerned rival teams might be able to develop faster than Mercedes. “We are quicker on the straights, but the Red Bull is very, very quick though the high-speed [corners], which tells me they maybe have a little bit more downforce than us.
“Last year there was a massive gap [between us]. We’ve definitely closed that up, but I think we can do a better job, so we’re going to keep pushing.”
ROSBERG: 2014 UNLIKE OTHER SEASONS
Rosberg admitted the drastic regulation changes for this season meant rivals would have a better chance of catching up, but reckoned the structure of the Mercedes team would weather any storm.
“It’s taken four and a half years but we really have a strong team now,” said Rosberg. “Starting with Toto [Wolff] and Paddy [Lowe] at the top I think we have a good structure.
“This year’s development race will be much more extreme than we’ve seen in recent years, because the regulations are so new. In the beginning the teams are learning so much and making such big steps all the time, it’s important to stay on it because the chances for teams behind us to catch up are much bigger.”