Lewis Hamilton says he is trying to ensure Mercedes is “prepared” to capitalise on any Red Bull slip-ups in the remaining eight races, starting this weekend in Singapore.
Having won 10 of the remaining 11 races of last season, Red Bull have remained undefeated throughout the 2023 campaign to this point, taking victory in all 14 rounds.
But Mercedes has only seized a solitary win in this regulation cycle, with the team continuing to play catch-up since opting for the wrong concept at the start of 2022.
The German marque’s victory in Brazil last year came by taking advantage of Red Bull heading down a suboptimal set-up route during a Sprint weekend, and the competition is likely to depend on a similar outcome occurring to deny the Austrian camp an unprecedented unbeaten season.
While Hamilton insists he wants Mercedes to be in pole position to pounce on any Red Bull issues, the Briton asserts his team must “level up” in every aspect to regularly challenge the reigning champions.
When asked about the chances of Max Verstappen, who has won the last 10 races, being caught out in Singapore, Hamilton said: “I don’t like to look at that sort of thing.
“I was just asked a question earlier: would you rather take Max out of the equation or take Adrian Newey [Red Bull Chief Technology Officer] out the equation? Something like that.
“And I was like, ‘neither’, I think we just have to level up and do a better job. They’ve done an exceptional job, and you can’t fault them for the amazing work that they collectively are doing and have done.
“I just want to level up all of us. But there’s a lot of opportunity for sure in these next eight races. So just trying to make sure that we are prepared to be there if something does happen to be coming our way. But we remain hopeful for that.”
Mercedes arrived in Singapore last year expecting to be in competitive shape, but the team failed to maximise the weekend and failed to even scoop a podium finish.
After enduring a trying weekend at Monza, Mercedes is optimistic that it will enjoy a more competitive outing upon F1’s return to a higher downforce circuit configuration.
But Hamilton, who has four wins in Singapore, is remaining coy about the Brackley squad’s chances of producing a strong result this time around.
“I don’t know, I think we were relatively competitive last year, but we had not such a great race,” he acknowledged. “But given the car we had last year, I’m hoping the car has progressed quite a lot since last year.
“So hopefully, we are maybe a little bit closer that to the front. I’m hoping we can fight for a podium. I’ll find out tomorrow with everybody, but that’s the reality.”
In this year’s event, the drivers will be presented with the challenge of adjusting to a revised circuit configuration.
Construction work taking place at Marina Bay has resulted in the sequence of corners previously between Turns 16 and 19 being removed in place of a single long straight.
Asked for his thoughts on the changes before trialling them tomorrow, Hamilton said: “It’ll make the lap easier, that’s for sure. It gives less corners for Red Bull to be further ahead.
“It’s a short straight. So I don’t think anyone will have an advantage particularly on it. Except for the Ferraris might be quick on the straight maybe, or the Red Bulls maybe?
“But I think it’s such a short straight, I don’t think it’s going to be a huge issue. And I mean, there’s generally nowhere that our car is favoured!
“And this is not a particular track that’s been a strong place for us in the past. But [compared with] last year, as I said, with this type of car, we tend to be a little bit quicker than we thought we were going to be. So maybe that I hope that’s the case this weekend.”