Hamilton says Azerbaijan GP fightback “shows that the hunger is there”

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says his performance in yesterday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix shows he’s ready to compete once he gains more confidence in Mercedes’ latest car.

For the second year in a row, Mercedes have begun the season well off the pace of the front-runners. Hamilton has also said he is not at one with how his car handles.

He was downbeat after Saturday’s sprint race, which he finished in seventh place. But he enjoyed a more competitive showing in the grand prix, passing Lance Stroll to finish sixth, despite dropping to 10th place during the Safety Car period.

Hamilton had already pitted before the Safety Car appeared in the race, and dropped behind several rivals who were able to make their pit stops without losing as much time as he had. “It wasn’t ideal,” he reflected.

“Obviously I got caught up with the Safety Car. But I couldn’t get bogged down in that frustration. I’ve lost all those positions, I just had to keep my head down and get focussed on attacking and that’s what I did. I got my head down and got right back in the race.”

He said he “really enjoyed those battles” as he made his way forward. “Really continuously proud of my team for just keeping their head down.

“We didn’t have the pace that we had in the last race, which obviously is not the greatest, but there’s no lack of motivation in this team. We’re all super-hungry. We’re just working towards getting those upgrades. So I think this is the beginning of something hopefully better in the next coming races.”

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He said he was pleased with his reaction following the disappointment of the sprint race and the early blow of the Safety Car setback in the grand prix.

“There’s so much work going into the weekend and then yesterday was a difficult day where [I] went backwards. And then today I was hoping for a better day and I lost so many places, I lost five places or whatever it was. So that’s definitely a kick in the teeth.

“But then I was like, well, it is what it is. But I think today shows that the hunger is there and once I get that confidence in the car, the pace will come.”

During the race, Hamilton was heard asking his race engineer Peter Bonnington about message he had on his steering wheel. He explained he was being shown an image due to his brake temperatures which was preventing him accessing other information.

“The brakes were overheating, the image was up, so that meant I couldn’t see tyre temperatures,” he said. “So that’s the thing I was trying to turn off.”

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2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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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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7 comments on “Hamilton says Azerbaijan GP fightback “shows that the hunger is there””

  1. I wonder what image? Perhaps him holding a winning trophy.

  2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    1st May 2023, 14:20

    Yeah, I always love when a driver faces some adversity in a race and then goes on to put up a fight. Like he said, you have to clear your head and get back in there and it’s so hard to do that without making a mistake.

    And while we are on the topic, we should give a little credit to Sainz who had a horrible weekend compared to his teammate but was solid as a rock against Hamilton’s mounting pressure on a very unforgiving circuit. He could have easily rubbed a wheel like others did or hit a kerb.

    1. Meh, like you said, was nowhere compared to leclerc, and that’s enough for me to not be able to say anything positive about sainz.

  3. He made his luck this weekend. The SC could have ruined it all but he went for it with 2 quick passes on Hulk and Ocon, then Russell.

    And thanks to this he was in position to pass Stroll through that mistake he made, because if it were not for that, it would never happen as Mercedes had nothing to offer on the straights once more.

    1. Ah, true, there was this overtake too, forgot about it.

  4. So what happened to the upgrades and the speed Russel was saying they had found over the last 4 weeks?
    There is mention of Imola upgrades on the horizon, but the leader of the pack, seems to be playing that down.

    1. There wouldn’t have been enough time in this ‘sprint weekend’ to test new parts.

      I’m guessing the new parts will be tested in one of the ‘spare’ practice sessions in the upcoming races before Mercedes commits to those items.

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