Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Hamilton expects F1 drivers will be “rusty as hell” when season starts

2020 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton says he’s been talking to his Mercedes team about how they can return to racing at peak competitiveness in July.

The six-times world champion described how he’s been in discussion with race engineer Peter Bonnington and technical director James Allison about getting ready to race again when the season makes its planned belated start at the Red Bull Ring.

“I do hope to come back better,” said Hamilton in a video published by his team. “But we’re going to get in the car and we’re going to probably have Friday practice and we’ll all be rusty as hell.

“So it’ll be really interesting to see how we hit the ground running. I’ve been on the phone with my team, speaking to Bono, speaking to James and trying to discuss with them a plan of how I want to arrive.

“I think we all need to make sure that we arrive utilising the tools we have simulations, race simulations. I probably will get in the simulator which I don’t really always love, but utilising those tools to make sure that when we come to that first race, we hit the ground running, we’re ready as if we’ve not missed any of the races.”

Ensuring they’re at the top of their game when the season begins is a “real challenge”, Hamilton added. “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to do it but that’s a good goal to have.”

Hamilton said he hopes to come back from the extended break due to the pandemic in even better shape than before.

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“I think if you are not improving and growing during these days, then what are we doing? You’re obviously just wasting time sitting on the backside.

Lewis Hamilton, Angela Cullen, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2018
The F1 ‘minders’ who help drivers unlock their last percent of performance
“Nothing’s going to get handed to any of us. We’ve got to go out there and get whatever it is that we want. And you’ve got to want it more than the person that you’re fighting against. You’ve just got to get off your arse and do it.

“I’m in pretty decent shape but I could always be in better shape. I see things like ‘I’ve got a bit of fat here, shoot, I’ve got to work harder, I’ve got to go for a run’. And in actual reality I don’t really have that much fat.”

The world champion has been isolating with his trainer and coach Angela Cullen of Hintsa Performance, but admitted: “I miss my family.”

“I’m not with my family and that’s definitely not easy because I wish I could be with my sister and my niece and nephew,” said Hamilton. “I’m sure they’d’ve driven me crazy by now but still I miss seeing them as I’m sure many people miss seeing their families.”

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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...

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16 comments on “Hamilton expects F1 drivers will be “rusty as hell” when season starts”

  1. Drivers like Norris or Leclerc who keep themselves occupied and fully concentrated on iRacing might have a slight advantage over the others. Although I really doubt that all the other drivers don’t keep themselves in a perfect form and won’t be 100% ready to jump on the train once the season begins. The venues and overhauled format of the calendar might have far bigger impact on the individual chances.

    1. @pironitheprovocateur The latter hasn’t been doing iRacing over these months without real racing. At least not as far as what has been posted on YT from his streams, etc., is concerned. Other games, yes. F1 2020, Assetto Corsa or some other racing game, some truck-game, COD, etc. I haven’t found anything specifically on iRacing, though.

    2. It might be the other way around. I wonder if it actually hurts them racing in the f1 2019 because its lacks realism. Will it make them try an overtake that would work ingame but not in real life.
      Its a bit like playing shooters or other fastpaced games all summer and your brain starts to think you always need to “rush”

      1. Yes, that is a legitimate argument. I was rather hinting at the overall level of concentration they might be able to maintain this way, I have no doubts they’ll adapt to real life racing as soon as they get the feeling of car on track again.

        1. https://dai.ly/x7u0rmy
          F1 2020 Ted’s Notebook – 20.05

  2. I don’t think I could handle isolating with my boss. Maybe it is more like a master-butler relationship. Still, it would be difficult.

    1. Cristiano Ferreira
      19th May 2020, 15:14

      Perhaps Hamilton and Angela have more than a professional relationship which would be not strange at all since they both appear to be close to each other.

      1. ‘I’m fortunate I’ve got Angela with me…she’s one of my best friends; so I’m really, really fortunate to get to work with someone so positive.’ From the same interview.

  3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    19th May 2020, 11:58

    If drivers think themselves and others will be rusty when having 6 – 8 months off, then how rusty do they think any drivers such as Ocon, or possibly Alonso if he returns will be? If they keep up the training, I think it will make little difference. But drivers that have been out of the sport and barely even involved in stuff closely related to it (like alonso) it is those drivers that i would question if they would perform very well when / if they return.

    1. I imagine they’ll shake off any rust they had within a couple of practice laps. They’ll probably find the travelling and being surrounded by people more strange than anything so when they get to go out on track, it’ll feel like being “home.”

        1. F1 2020 Ted’s Notebook – 20.05
          https://dai.ly/x7u0rmy

  4. Thank you for the link to the minders article.

  5. It will be interesting to see if there is any correlation between drivers who have done no practice, drivers who have only used the official sim, drivers who have only been karting at their personal track and drivers who have only played simcade console titles.

    I think the most notable difference will be confidence in close proximity. Verstappen for example only really plays the most accurate sims with the focus on realism – I suspect his racecraft will be spot on immediately. Vettel however has had bad news, limited home sim work and a shaky recent record wheel-to-wheel. If I were racing him on lap one in Austria, I’d be aggressively attacking Turn 3.

    That said, these drivers are extraordinary. Even watching the best sim drivers, when comparing to how I race online, it is clear how consistent and precise they are. If the drivers aren’t back to 100% within 5 laps, then they don’t deserve to be there – but I think the mental game is important here.

  6. I don’t think that guy will be rusty.

  7. Sounds like he’s setting up an alibi for if he’s beaten in the best car

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