Austrian GP one of F1's toughest events - Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the Austrian Grand Prix

Reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton believes the Austrian Grand Prix is one of Formula 1’s toughest events, as Mercedes chases equalling a long-standing record.

Mercedes has won the last 10 races and one more victory would draw it level with McLaren, from 1988, in terms of the longest winning streaks in history.

But Mercedes suffered a rare double retirement at last year’s Austrian Grand Prix and that, coupled with anticipated extreme heat, has left Hamilton cautious.

“Every weekend we arrive, it’s a little bit different, different challenges, different circuits,” said Hamilton.

“It was a strong race for us in the south of France, and Montreal was a tougher weekend. Monaco was a tougher weekend, so it’s been up and down through the entire season.

“Ultimately, to come out on top, I think here is one of the toughest races.

“Last year we had a double DNF, so for sure, you imagine all the engineers are on the edge of their seats, a bit nervous, because it’s very, very hot here, it’s the hottest, 700 metres in altitude here.

“There’s only 10 corners, but the car’s always on the limit in terms of cooling, the cars are heavier this year, so the brakes are going to be even worse.

“They end up having to open up the car to get cooling, and that’s always worse for the car aerodynamically. So you lose performance. Some teams have to do it more than others.

“It’s going to be an interesting weekend. I don’t know how we’re going to do. I’m here to do the same thing, so I’m hoping we can stay up there.

“I think the Ferraris are going to be close, so I don’t know, their car works differently on different tracks, so it’ll be interesting to see where we stand with them.

“And Red Bull were quick here last year, so it will be interesting to see how they do as well.”

Hamilton enters the ninth round of the year with a 36-point advantage in the Drivers’ Championship, having taken six wins to Valtteri Bottas’ two.

“I think I’m doing alright, but I always feel like I can improve,” said Hamilton.

“I think last year, I felt like I got up to a really, really good place, and then starting back into a new car each year, it’s always a massive hill that you have to climb, and I definitely struggled with understanding these tyres as I do every year.

“But slowly starting to come towards me and back to where I was towards the end of last year, in a really happy, comfortable spot. I feel a better driver than I was last year.

“Through experience, naturally each year you improve. I’m working towards being in the best place performance-wise, and mentally as well with my career. It’s always a work in progress.”