Mercedes produced by far the most successful car of last season but the races where it wasn’t so strong were vital for shaping the team’s new car, says Lewis Hamilton.
While the team won 12 races out of 20 the performance of the W08 fluctuated depending on track and weather conditions much more than its predecessors. These races proved the most useful for designing the team’s latest car, as Hamilton explained.
In Malaysia the team were consistently off the pace in practice. Although Hamilton took advantage of technical problems for Sebastian Vettel to claim pole position, he was unable to keep Max Verstappen’s Red Bull from beating him to victory, while team mate Valtteri Bottas finished a distant fifth.
“I remember last year in Malaysia we had a very in-depth debrief afterwards,” says Hamilton, “and those particular debriefs that we had were significant in making today’s car.”
“In those debriefs only Valtteri and I talk, really.”
After last year’s disruption of losing Nico Rosberg and technical chief Paddy Lowe during the off-season, Mercedes enjoys greater consistency heading into the new season. Mercedes’ power units have been the class of the field since the V6 hybrid turbo power units were introduced, are there are rumours they have now hit a milestone 1,000bhp in peak performance mode.
With no dramatic changes to the regulations which might trip them up, what they learned from the weaknesses of last year’s car will stand to put them in an even more competitive position. The fact the car’s wheelbase is unchanged gives a clear sign of the confidence they have in the design philosophy they adopted for last year’s revised aerodynamic regulations. Ferrari has arguably paid them the ultimately compliment by extending the wheelbase of its SF71H, following the lead set by Mercedes last year.
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It all adds up to an ominous picture for the opposition. In particular Ferrari, who narrowed the gap to Mercedes in 2017 but fell short in the second half of the season. Now Mercedes is gunning to equal Ferrari’s record of five consecutive championship doubles. At least one of their rivals believes they are favourites to win seven titles in a row.
The threat Ferrari posed last year appeared to rejuvenate Hamilton, who produced what he describes as his best ever championship performance. With one year to go on his current contract it is clear he is beginning to think about what he will do after Formula One, but isn’t ready to stop yet.
Hamilton managed to find himself in the headlines for the wrong reasons again over the winter break. Nonetheless he says his longest ever off-season break helped him rediscover the motivation to do it all over again in the next 21 races.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to it,” he says. “As you start to go through the training process you start to discover your goals.”
“It’s quite simple, I want to somehow be better than I was last year. Last year was the best year I had performance-wise. How can I top that? How can I improve on what was a very strong year? But there are lots of areas, actually.
“Even still my relationship with my team is constantly growing. How I interact with my team is constantly growing. The team, obviously there’s new people that come in, how do I utilise them, how do I use their genius to help me achieve my goal? How do I interact with them to help them get what they want? Ultimately utilising them to get my goal helps them get theirs.”
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9 comments on “Tough 2017 races had “significant” effect on new Mercedes – Hamilton”
12th March 2018, 13:12
”his longest ever off-season break” – The length of the current off-season period is precisely the same as the 2016-17 equivalent, though. Furthermore, the off-season breaks early in his F1 career, for example, were even longer.
12th March 2018, 13:18
Perhaps he means his break rather than the teams? Maybe he spent more time in the factory previously?
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
12th March 2018, 22:38
@jerejj This refers to the break he took during the off-season, which is explained further in the link in that piece of text.
12th March 2018, 15:00
Maybe he felt it longer without social media?
Like how time slows for us without the internet or a mobile… :-)
Ed Marques (@edmarques)
13th March 2018, 0:25
This is the most ridiculous comment i read on this site.
13th March 2018, 8:59
12th March 2018, 13:57
I would think the races during which Ferrari et al struggled more last season will also have been of focus to them in addressing their 2018 effort, with driver debriefs etc etc. Case in point, they’ve gone to a longer wheelbase.
Ed Marques (@edmarques)
13th March 2018, 0:25
This car is stunning
13th March 2018, 7:28
Congratulations for mercedes for the 2018 championship.
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