Lewis Hamilton: I've not felt fully comfortable since Australian GP
F1 championship leader Lewis Hamilton says cleaner weekends are key for Mercedes’ prospects – and says he has not felt fully comfortable with the W09 since Australia’s season-opener.
Hamilton swept to a dominant pole position in Melbourne and controlled the early phase of the race, only to lose out to Sebastian Vettel through an ill-timed Safety Car period.
Neither Hamilton nor Mercedes have hit form since, with Vettel taking three pole positions on the bounce.
Hamilton recovered from a compromised grid position to take third in Bahrain, was a lacklustre fourth in China, and was set for third in Azerbaijan until he was gifted the lead amid late drama.
The unexpected victory lifted Hamilton into the lead of the standings for the first time in 2018, four points clear of Vettel, but the Mercedes driver stressed that he needs to get on top of the W09.
“[In] Australia, we started on the right foot on the Friday and it progressed and got better and better,” said Hamilton.
“Since then, every weekend we’ve generally started a couple of steps – at least – behind the Ferraris and struggled to catch up.
“So whilst there has been a lot of work that has been done, we are still, today, performance-wise, we are still behind them.
“But I don’t think we’re under any illusions that we have the fastest car or that we don’t have work to do. We know that. Everyone’s working as hard as they can but we’ve got to keep pushing, really got to keep pushing.
“I’ve got to figure out how to get on top of this car a little bit more.
“Australia, as I said, I was really comfortable with it and since then I’ve not been and I don’t really know why, so I’ve got to try and work on that.”
Hamilton also suspects that his dominance in Australia – where he claimed pole by six-tenths of a second – was flattered by Ferrari failing to extract the maximum from its package.
“If you look at them, they had a little bit more downforce [in Azerbaijan] yet they were a little bit slower on the straights but quicker through all the corners,” he said.
“The middle sector was always three tenths up, three or four tenths up, which we just couldn’t catch up so their package really suited this track perfectly, I would say.
“Maybe our [car] did in Australia but I would imagine they just didn’t unlock their potential in that race, particularly, and since then have [done].”