Far from being concerned about Mercedes’ testing performance, Lewis Hamilton is excited by the prospect of having to chase down Red Bull starting at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Mercedes has been the class of Formula 1 throughout the hybrid era, but its run of consecutive championships since 2014 could be under threat if pre-season signs are anything to go by. Red Bull — armed with a new, upgraded Honda power unit — looked quick while Mercedes was struggling, but Hamilton is not concerned by the prospect of starting the season behind.
“I think each year is a little bit of an unknown, but of course we, more often, have a better feeling of what’s happening with our car,” Hamilton said. “It’s massively exciting for us as a team that we are currently not the fastest. So how are we going to work together and unite to get to where we want to be?
“That, for me, has got me super … I mean, I can’t tell you, I’m so excited to have that challenge. Again, seeing some of the other teams close is going to be great for fans and I love that collaboration with the men and women in my team and trying to get to our common goal.”
One from last week. 🤩🤩 Our garage on ⏩⏩ pic.twitter.com/tloxLM1Akl
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) March 25, 2021
Hamilton starts 2021 as the defending champion but with question marks over his future after only signing a one-year deal last month. Yet he insists a decision over whether he continues will not be based on how competitive Mercedes is, and if anything says the current situation motivates him even more than usual.
“The position I’m in has nothing to do with whether we are or are not winning a championship. I don’t quit when the going gets tough. I wanted a one-year deal, and yes, I said to Toto (Wolff, team principal) that, if we are to work on the future together, we should talk about it much earlier than the January before the season starts.
“I’m fully committed to this sport. This sport, I think, is in the best place it’s been in terms of steps we are taking and what F1 is doing in terms of technology and creating a platform to work towards a better world. I love what I’m doing and I arrive more excited than I have for a long time. I just said to Bono (race engineer Peter Bonnington) that I’m excited to get going and we are going to have a really great battle one way or another. That’s what I’ve always loved.
“In the current position I am in, I don’t feel like this is the end. Of course, we have got these changes that are happening next year, which are exciting. I think this looks like it could be the most exciting season yet; we’ve got new teams, new formats and it’s closer. I don’t feel like I’m at the end, but only the next eight months or so will let me know and I’ll find out if I’m ready to stop or not. I don’t think I will, personally. But you never know.”