Lewis Hamilton says any psychological attempts from Mercedes’ rivals to try and portray his team as clear favorites for the 2020 season are not having any effect.
Ferrari has played down its performance potential throughout pre-season, and since testing ended has been the focus of power unit controversy due to a settlement with the FIA. While Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also has highlighted Mercedes as the benchmark once again, Hamilton says comments from other teams don’t make a different to his approach.
“I don’t pay attention to anybody else through testing,” Hamilton said. “We just focus on our job and I literally have no idea what other people have been saying. Of course I’m aware of people bigging us up and talking themselves down so they can potentially overachieve unexpectedly or whatever, but it doesn’t make any difference.
“People seem to think it’s a psychological battle but it’s really not. For the weak-minded maybe, but it doesn’t affect us whatsoever.”
Hamilton can match Michael Schumacher’s record of seven drivers’ titles this season, but says the potential milestone comes with no added pressure, even as the defending champion.
“It’s not something I think about. I always say that numbers are not really a massive thing for me. I plan to be here a little bit longer so hopefully I get there. We shall see.
“If I was to look at it this way (that success makes him a bigger target) then I’ve had a target on my back since the day I won my first championship when I was 10 years old. So it’s nothing new to me. I was the only black driver there and I’ve always generally been at the front of championships, so it’s no different in the last 20 years of driving. I’m quite comfortable in that space.
“It’s almost a positive when people are targeting you and looking to try and beat you, because you want everyone to bring their A-game so that if you do manage to pull it off and finish ahead, it feels even better.”
Even if he heads to Australia as the title favorite, Hamilton hasn’t won in Melbourne since 2015 — one of only two victories at Albert Park for the Briton in his F1 career.