Lewis Hamilton believes Ferrari are in control ahead of new season

Press Association Sport 10:40 06/03/2019
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Lewis Hamilton believes rivals Ferrari hold all the aces as Britain’s five-time Formula One world champion gears up for the biggest battle of his career.

The 34-year-old Mercedes star will head to Melbourne a week on Sunday to begin his quest for a remarkable sixth world championship, and move to within just one title triumph of Michael Schumacher’s record haul.

Hamilton, who is now earning a staggering £40million-a-season, delivered a superb campaign in 2018 to close out his fourth championship in five years and see off Sebastian Vettel’s error-prone challenge with two rounds to spare.

Yet Vettel’s Ferrari team have emerged from Formula One’s winter hibernation boasting the fastest car.

Indeed, Hamilton fears the Prancing Horse could gallop out of the starting gates at Albert Park on March 17 with an advantage of up to half-a-second a lap. A fast mile in motor racing terminology.

Last year, Hamilton won 11 of the 21 rounds, excelling in a Mercedes car which was not always the cream of the crop.

And the Stevenage-born driver knows all too well that he will have to dip into the top drawer if he is to write another chapter of grand prix history in 2019.

“Last season, there were many occasions where we were behind on performance so we had to overachieve with our delivery,” said Hamilton.

“Now we have to reach even further than we’ve done before.

“You have to be careful in that scenario because it could push you over the edge and you can make faults but we don’t mind a challenge. We love a fight and it just means that we have to work harder.

“When you start two or three steps ahead it is easier to keep at least one step in front.

“But I am not worried or disappointed. We have a hill to climb. We know how to do it, so it is just about being diligent, taking no shortcuts and bringing even more performance. There is no reward for going quick in testing. What matters is that we are fast in Melbourne.”

Hamilton’s pragmatic approach is evidence of his ease on track – leading a Mercedes team this year bidding to create history with a sixth consecutive team-and-driver double – and his ease away from the circuit, too, as he navigates his way around the globe promoting his Tommy Hilfiger clothing range.

Yet, there will be cause for concern at Mercedes, for they can no longer draw on a huge performance advantage which has enabled them to reign supreme in F1’s recent engine-dominated era.

Ferrari have caught up and they had the machinery to win both championships last year, but driver errors by Vettel and strategic mistakes by his team proved their downfall.

Now there is new management at Maranello and with it renewed hope. Maurizio Arrivabene was sacked as team principal and replaced by Mattia Binotto.

Vettel has a fresh, exuberant team-mate in the highly-regarded Charles Leclerc, aged only 21 but thought of by the Italians as a world champion in the making.

Kimi Raikkonen remains the last driver to win a title for Ferrari, 12 years ago, while it has been more than a decade since the famous team last lifted the constructors’ trophy.

But will the Scuderia finally end their silverware drought in 2019?

“We have all the ingredients,” said Vettel, the four-time world champion.

“In previous years, maybe we didn’t put everything 100 per cent together. So, there’s always room for improvement.

“We know what it needs to succeed, but it only really matters when we find ourselves in that position again, and that’s what we are working towards.”

Know more about Sport360 Application

Recommended

Most popular

Related Tags