Bahrain Grand Prix 2014: Lewis Hamilton loves the uncertainty of new Formula One machines
2008 World Champion is keeping expectations in check ahead of the third race of the season
Thursday 03 April 2014
Lewis Hamilton's Malaysian Grand Prix win last week was so dominant that he would be quite within his rights to be feeling the pressure already – or at least thinking positively about the rest of the season.
But such is the uncertainty surrounding the performance, reliability and capabilities of the cars, he is looking to Sunday's round in Bahrain – and beyond – with a completely open mind.
There was a time, he says, that you could predict the world champion straight after pre-season testing. But two races in – both won by Hamilton's team Mercedes – and with both Red Bull and Ferrari still finding their feet, the next race, let alone the drivers' championship, is anyone's guess.
"From one race to another somebody else wins and the expectation shifts, so it's irrelevant in that sense for me," Hamilton said of the pressure. "In the past, as soon as you'd test and you'd get to the first race and you knew you were one second down, you knew that it was going to be a real slog to win the World Championship.
"Then you'd get to the third race and the opposition are so far gone already, it would be such a long year after that. You don't give up, but it's a different feeling after that. The difference for me is that I find myself this season with a car knowing I can fight the other guys, and it's a great feeling."
According to Hamilton, two days in Dubai after last week's Malaysian Grand Prix were all it took for the euphoria of his first victory there to evaporate, and for reality to return. For the 2008 world champion a fast start to the season is a welcome return to form after last season's disappointments in his first year at Mercedes. However, he is taking nothing for granted and getting back down to the hard work.
"It wears off after a couple of days, and you go back to training," he admitted, as Bahrain prepares for its first night race. "You just want to be as hungry as you were previously."
Hamilton's old team-mate Jenson Button recently nominated him as his toughest partner, describing him as "superfast but very up and down emotionally".
"I would say what he said is quite accurate," Hamilton agreed. "I always wear my heart on my sleeve, and it gets me into trouble now and then, but you go through different experiences.
"I've always talked about trying to put the right pieces in place to get through my year in a positive way without having those spikes, and I feel like I might have found it. But you never know!" He broke off to laugh at himself. "Just being in Dubai for a couple of days was a huge low compared to the weekend and I'm there in the hotel, bored already and just wanting to get racing again!"
But though Mercedes are favourites here, Hamilton sees Red Bull and Ferrari coming up fast. He added: "Red Bull are very quick and also I can tell that Ferrari are good, they will both be a serious force to be reckoned with this year. Both have very good cars, Red Bull the more so."
Some suggest it is vital to garner points in these early races, but Hamilton disagreed. "I don't think it's more crucial now than it's going to be in the second half of the season, and the second half will be even harder," he said. "And those extra 18 points that Nico [team-mate Rosberg] has are going to take some time to catch up over the next races."
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