Lewis Hamilton says he has been operating “within a margin” in recent seasons and continues to do so in 2019 as part of his approach to the drivers’ championship.
Last year Hamilton retired from only one race, at the Austrian Grand Prix in which Mercedes recorded a double-DNF. This season, he and teammate Valtteri Bottas have completed every lap of every round so far in a show of impressive reliability, while Ferrari and Red Bull have only registered one retirement apiece. Hamilton says he makes a specific effort to look after his machinery in order to maximize his point-scoring potential.
“I think I was as relaxed last year,” Hamilton said. “I think every year you get a bit more comfortable within yourself and within the methods you use and the processes you go through.
“Qualifying’s not been spectacular this year — still not perfect, there’s still work to be done — but the races have generally been relatively strong, bar that one not-so-great last one (in Austria). I still look after the car… if you look at Free Practice 1 I did three laps less than Valtteri, FP2 I did maybe one lap more. I’m always conscious of it.
“My trust in the car is incredibly high and I know what the car is able to do, so I guess the experience of last year has made me a bit more confident to push a bit more. Being that it is so close I need to try and eke a bit more out of the car and if it’s not strong enough we need to make it stronger.
“But the guys work within margins and I’ve been operating within a margin. Ultimately you want to get it to a point where it’s as close but safe as possible and I think that’s where I’m operating right now.”
Bottas is currently Hamilton’s closest rival in the drivers’ championship, 39 points adrift in the standings, and the five-time world champion believes he is enjoying the best start to a season of his career.
“Ultimately, there’s nothing personal between us. Coming to the weekend, you are trying to apply the pressure and come out on top. I didn’t come to (Silverstone) with the idea that I need to extend or anything like that. I need to work my way towards trying to win, how do I do that, and every weekend it’s slightly different but this has been the strongest year — to this point — that I can remember ever having.”