Hamilton: Mercedes took a step forward but our rivals made a leap

2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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The tougher competition in F1 this year would make winning the championship Mercedes’ biggest achievement yet according to Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton, who is yet to win a race so far in 2018, said the team’s rivals have made significant gains on them since last year.

“I think the others have definitely stepped up,” he said in Baku today. “We’ve made a step forward but they’ve made a big leap.”

“It’s always easier to catch up but to be pioneering which we have been for the last four years, whatever it is, I think is exceptional,” he added.

“Now we’ve got Red Bull at their best, Ferrari at their best, if we are able to pull through and deliver as we have in previous years it will be the biggest achievement this team will have accomplished.”

Hamilton believes tyre management is one area Mercedes’ rivals have an edge on them.

“I wouldn’t say we ‘lucked in’ in Melbourne but we were more on top of it naturally,” he explained. “We put the car on the track and it worked well. It was definitely easier to work the tyres. But the engineers could not explain why I was so quick in qualifying.

“The Ferraris were slower in the corners and the next race they were just as quick so they found something and it’s most likely in the tyres. If you look at all the drivers there’s different speeds of out laps, some drivers are taking two laps to get the tyres to work, some people are doing it in one lap, some people are going fast in the out laps, people are going slower. There’s different experiments people are doing, it’s very difficult to do it in a weekend, sessions are quite short. So I think that’s definitely an area we need to improve on.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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  • 6 comments on “Hamilton: Mercedes took a step forward but our rivals made a leap”

    1. We just need a “normal” race to settle this. Australia’s was Mercedes dominance all weekend. Bahrain Ferrari had track position, but it felt Bottas was the quicker one that weekend, and China more or less the same thing, Ferrari with the edge, but Bottas very quick too

      1. Statistically, then, given all the races so far, wouldn’t that make a “normal” race actually the atypical one? :-)

    2. Funny that, I bought new tyres for my car and they set the suspension up in 15 minutes without even driving it. So, the skill of racing is all about getting the tyre temperature right on the day, why do they bother building different cars ?

    3. Bottas seems to be doing ok with the same car/tyres/team. Don’t hear any whinging from him in races? That excuse list is always a long one when HAM’s not in front hey.

    4. I kind of agree with him regarding the gains found by Red Bull and Ferrari. Both have addressed their weaknesses from last year, and both have improved massively.

      Mercedes’ only real deficit last year was in warmer tracks or on really high downforce circuits. Judging by Bahrain, they haven’t quite gotten their warmer circuit performance to optimum levels yet, and once Barcelona and Monaco are through, we should have a good idea of their strength on high downforce circuits.

      It definitely makes this season more interesting though. Any one of the 3 teams can be favourites going in to a race weekend. My guess over the next 3 races is that Mercedes will be favourites in Baku, Ferrari in Barcelona and Red Bull in Monaco. Can’t get better than that.

    5. I wonder if James Allison has designed another car that is light on its tyres. He has a reputation of designing cars like this… Remember everyone…

    Comments are closed.