Lewis Hamilton believes the key to Mercedes leading both championships is its ability to score good results at circuits it did not expect to be strong at.
Mercedes has traditionally set the pace in Canada, Austria and Silverstone in the V6 turbo era, but suffered defeat at the hands of Sebastian Vettel at two of those three this year, while Max Verstappen took victory in Austria. However, Hamilton scored a podium in Monaco despite strong showings from both Ferrari and Red Bull, and then won in both Germany and Budapest to open up a 24-point lead in the drivers’ standings.
Asked if he feels he has two fingers on the title due to the strong form he showed after the summer break last season, Hamilton replied: “Absolutely not.
“I think it’s far too early, and you’ve seen the ups and downs we’ve had from this year, you’ve been ahead by some points and behind some points… But we have learned a lot. I don’t believe there’s ever a moment that you’ve got your hands on the title or the trophy.
“We’ve got a long long way still to go, and there’s still nine races. So a lot can happen moving forwards, but what’s really important is that we continue to keep up the pressure and keep working as we have done until now. There’s nothing we really need to alter. I think our work ethic has been very strong and the team morale is better than ever and the spirit is better than ever.
“We’ve just got to keep it up because … I’m not really certain what to expect. We’ve got Singapore coming up; Singapore’s another weak circuit for us so there are a few good ones and a few not so good ones ahead.
“It’s important to capitalize on those difficult weekends such as [Hungary] and I think that’s really been a key strength of ours this year, we generally have come away with really good points at circuits which have generally been our weaker races but then we really need to capitalize on the races that we’re really strong at like Silverstone, for example.”
Hamilton says Mercedes has been the stronger team across a number of aspects even if it hasn’t had the outright fastest car this season.
“I don’t know if we were leading at this point of last year, but last year I think maybe we felt like we were a little bit stronger than we were compared to this year,” he said.
“This year we all know that Ferrari really do have the upper hand pace-wise, but I think all around, performance-wise, in terms of strategy … because to win a championship is not just about speed. It’s about how you manage things, the strategy calls you make, mistakes, all these different things all weigh up.
“I think, as a whole, we have hopefully done a slightly better job up until now. So, we’ve got work to do, we’ve got things to improve, we’ve got performance to bring moving forwards. We’ve got to try and catch them – but we’ve got to continue to keep rising with all the other elements, which allows us to beat the Ferraris when they don’t bring their A-game.”