Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Hamilton was “amazed” by Mercedes’ performance in Spain

2018 Spanish Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he was “amazed” by how competitive his Mercedes was in the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver has struggled with the balance of his car since the season-opening race in Australia.

“In Melbourne I was really comfortable in the car, with the balance,” said Hamilton. “Since then I just didn’t have the confidence to attack, to lean on the car, to have the rear particularly where I wanted it.

“For whatever reason I still didn’t have that [on Saturday]. It was a very nervous, snappy car throughout qualifying. It was better than it had been in the past but still not great.

“And then [in the race] we just happened to get the right wing setting, for example, for the race and the car was a little bit nicer to drive. It was a little bit more of a normal balance. I could see that in my time I was much more comfortable.

“I was a bit amazed to see the pace difference that I had to others, plus I was able to look after my tyres a lot more than it appeared the guys behind me [could]. They were running out of tyres, the front-left tyre, and I was able to look after mine.”

Hamilton said he “could’ve still got another four laps in that first stint” but the team brought him in early to cover off any threat from Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari.

Early in his second stint Hamilton was told on the radio he didn’t need to conserve his tyres. He described how he kept pushing his car until he hit traffic on the final lap.

“I was feeling comfortable and I [wanted] to push this car to the limit,” he said. “I wanted to see how far I can push it, how far I can push myself, how consistent I can be, can I beat that time, can I improve?

“That was my mindset the whole race. It wasn’t until turn 12 of the last lap that I backed off.”

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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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  • 23 comments on “Hamilton was “amazed” by Mercedes’ performance in Spain”

    1. Bottas 21 seconds behind Hamilton on the same tires and strategy, not acceptable.

      1. I think that’s disingenuous to Bottas. He got caught behind the much slower Ferrari, and it’s very difficult to overtake at this circuit.

      2. To be fair Bottas has the disadvantage of having the Ferrari ahead of him spoiling his air flow.

        That said i bet Bottas can’t wait for Hamilton to win this championship – early, so he can get back to winning the remaining races of the championship. ;)

      3. @noname it’s oeett clear his tyres were 8 laps older and he had to monitor wear. He matched Hamilton on pace when he wanted but why push harder than necessary? Especially against a teammate in the same car. Saves the engine as well as tyres.

      4. @noname Except he was stuck behind a much slower Vettel for the entire first stint in which Hamilton built around 70% of his gap to Bottas.

      5. @noname – yes, the team could have put Bottas in a much better position by giving him a clean pit-stop. Perhaps allowing him an extra lap or two after Vettel came in for tyres, to build up more of a buffer – I don’t know how the other traffic was placed however, may not have been possible.

    2. Most of that was due to losing second place at the start. After getting ahead of Vettel and returning back to racing speeds on lap 43, Bottas was 14.5 seconds behind Hamilton. He lost about 6 seconds over the course of the next 23 laps. That’s absolutely acceptable.

      1. The fact that Hamilton managed to get pole with a car that is still skitish, and manage to claim this win when the car is still on the wrong side of perfect, says a lot for him. This suggests there is still more performance to be had from the car, if Mercedes can figure out the cause for the car’s poor performance.

        Now I wonder if Bottas is suffering the same issues?

        1. He got oversteer coming out of turn 2 in both qualifying and the race so I’d imagine yes he does have the same issues.

        2. BOT was right behind HAM in Quali, so do not think there was much wrong with the car this GP. If it wasn’t for that overtaking maneouver at the start, more than sure BOT would have been closer to HAM rather than VET, so the car was OK to say the least – the other driver (BOT) managed to beat the rest too, not only HAM.

          1. For Bottas the car might have been ‘ok’ like you said, but that doesn’t mean it was for Hamilton.

            1. Correct. But, dunno, feels a little weird to see the driver who took the PP and won the race easily still talking about the car not being perfect. If the car was not OK, yet he still won easily, it just shows how much better Mercedes was compared to the rest of the field.

        3. re: “if Mercedes can figure out the cause for the car’s poor performance” – the car that just qualified and finished 1-2?
          I know what you mean, though. It’s not really the performance, it’s the unpredictability of when that performance can be unlocked. It’s like a guitar that’s utterly brilliant but almost impossible to keep in tune. Maybe the team will flatten out some of the peakiness, otherwise it’s going to be an odd season, moreso for Hamilton who seems to be affected by it to a slightly greater extent than Bottas.

          1. +1 @tribaltalker
            I do like a good analogy!

            I saw Hamilton play guitar once, it looked like he was learning, I wondered was he encouraged to do that by a mind coach. Lots in common between tuning your instrument and car set up but also the rhythm and sensitivity required to play it relate well too.

            1. @twentyseven – Thanks! He’s definitely interested: see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YE4xZuMd3I, not so sure about Vettel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7WZ8k2sEas – he’s clearly a good sport though.

        4. Are you even serious with this comment?

          The Mercedes was clearly the most dominant car on track this weekend. The most dominant a car has been all season – and yet we’re still heaping praise on Hamilton like he’s achieving all this in the worst car on the grid.

          I simply don’t understand the Hamilton fanboyism!

          1. @nick101
            Are you even serious with this comment?
            I simply don’t understand the Hamilton hate-ism!

            1. Nick is more serious than you for sure, this was the worst race of the season, check the ratings if you doubt it, and the most dominated one by a team.

              Mercedes > ferrari\red bull in australia
              Ferrari\mercedes\red bull in bahrain
              Ferrari\mercedes > red bull in china
              Ferrari > mercedes > red bull (at least with battery issues) in baku
              Mercedes >> ferrari\red bull in spain

              Pulling away at 1 sec per lap is not good for a challenging championship, it’s good if you want a repeat of 2014-2016 when you already knew who both mercedes would be in races of their own at the very first race.

    3. This year I don’t think there’s been much to choose between Hamilton, Vettel, Ricciardo and Alonso on a driver performance level. Vettel and Alonso have been very consistent, Hamilton has in Australia and Spain shown that when he gets his ducks in a row can be unbeatable (strategy error in Australia aside), and Ricciardo has shown that he’s probably the best fighter on the grid.

      But I think off track is where Hamilton is going to win it. Opportunities like Spain where he plays with the car and delivers feedback to the engineers on what is needed to be faster are what is going to help Mercedes win the development war and why he’s so prized as a driver not only for his speed. I’m sure the other 3 are still assets for car development, but looking how McLaren used to be able to develop their way out of trouble, and how strong Mercedes have been at keeping their car that one step ahead I would love to see what he could do at Ferrari.

      1. Very interesting insight @philipgb. Hamilton’s ability to work with engineers to get the car where he needs has often been underrated, but there is a definite trend and I think people are starting to pick up on it more

      2. Some years ago people were all about Vettel and his notepad, where he write his impressions about the car and the tyres. How he was the only driver to attend to a meeting Pirelli invited the drivers to go and understand their product, and how this was the reason he was so successfull at Red Bull. He works harder than everybody else. This kind of stuff.

        Well, the notepad is still there. The results, not so much.

      3. “.. can be unbeatable.” Yeah sure, whilst being in a Merc and the others in their respective cars.

        Then the trying to convince us that Ham was the reason for the development-ability of McL. But why then did they lose their edge after 2007/08, right after he entered (so it would rather indicate his inability, which I btw, also don’t necessarily agree with)? No championships, just the occasional race win and the five-horse race of 2010. Could it be that there are other reasons why McL was relegated to a midfield or backmarker team? Like having to go up against so many manufacturers, having lesser engines, the ‘challenge’ that Newey found with project Red Bull and stuff. Plus McL have had the reputation of being excellent in in-season development for decades, long before Ham was even born.

    4. In my opinion Lewis and Valtteri are very close this year in qualifying. Looks like Valtteri was aiming just that area of his performance. When it comes to race mode he’s sort of lacking ‘sisu’. Besides, we all know that he lost two races beyond his control. However, what seems unacceptable to me is not the performance difference of Mercedes’ drivers it is the performance difference between Williams and Mercedes. ‘Same’ power unit and we have this. TD that left Mercedes last year overseeing design process of a total mess car for this season. It speaks volumes about F1 not being one man band show, and it’s a great testimony to the healthy engineering team structure at Mercedes.

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