Lewis Hamilton believes his recent performances have not been strong enough for him to win the Formula 1 drivers’ championship despite leading the standings ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
After having failed to win any of the opening three races – a streak coinciding with Mercedes’ longest victory drought since the start of the 2014 season – Hamilton inherited victory in Azerbaijan when teammate Valtteri Bottas suffered a puncture three laps from the end. While struggling to get the most out of his car at present, the win promoted Hamilton to the top of the championship. But when asked if that was a source of comfort, he replied: “I have zero comfortability.
“Since the last race I have not thought for one second that I am leading the world championship, it is not in my mind, it is not that it is not important to me, it is just empty at the moment. There is a long, long way to go. Imagine if I got excited now, knowing that we still have all the problems. It doesn’t mean anything. What is important is where you are in the end of the year.
“If this weekend we happen to have got on top of the issues we have with the car and start to be more consistent, then I can be a lot happier because I know then I can punch either at my weight, or a little bit above my weight. But at the moment I am punching below my weight, and that is not sufficient enough to win a world championship.
“We have been capitalizing on circumstances like the outcome of the last race, so I will take it for now, but in the long-term the team cannot continue to rely on that.”
Pirelli will bring tires with less tread depth to this weekend’s race in Barcelona to guard against overheating issues, but despite the change, Hamilton remains cautious about what he believes to be the root of Mercedes’ troubles.
“I can’t really expand too much on [the problems], because if we knew it all, we could do it. We are constantly working on a solution. Getting the car set up for the weekend has been interesting, but the underlying factor comes down to how we utilize the tires.
“I don’t think anyone can come up with an idea in the sense… people cannot write that I didn’t do testing. I did the Pirelli test last year, I did the end of season test, the midseason test, which I really don’t like doing, but the tires are behaving differently this year.
“There is that, and the balance we are having with the tires is shifting a little bit, and from one session to another, when you change the car set-up, it does not correlate with what the tires should do. So it is a moving target that we are struggling to get steady. That’s really what we are working on – how can I minimize those losses from the set-up?”