Lewis Hamilton said it was too early to determine whether Mercedes had rediscovered their mojo after finishing second and third behind Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat in the second practice session here in Japan.
After some intensive investigation by the team’s engineers following their disappointing performance in Singapore last week, Hamilton said: “Lots of work has been done to analyse and understand and there are lots of solutions and reasons why things were the way they were there. But it’s likely there was one thing that had a domino effect on the others.
“We’ve won 25 grands prix in the last year and a half, so I’m confident my team will do everything they can to find a solution and will fix it one way or another. I didn’t arrive here with any doubts in my mind.”
He said he had “already forgotten” Singapore, where Ferrari and Red Bull unexpectedly outperformed Mercedes and he retired for the first time since Belgium last year.
“Generally we’ve had a run of 20-odd races where we’ve had no reliability issues and the car’s been on point every weekend,” Hamilton said. “Then there was one particular track, which is perhaps the highest downforce we have and probably the bumpiest and unique in its own way. If that stood out, we are at another which is like the others we’ve had all year long. Time will tell. If we have the same problem this weekend it’ll be very interesting, but I sincerely doubt it.”
The weather is expected to improve today after heavy rain yesterday but Hamilton, who finished third behind team-mate Nico Rosberg in the second practice, said he is not worried either way.
“Regardless of my position I’m always the hunter, and have been ever since the day I started racing and had a much worse kart than the rest,” he said. “I enjoy racing. When I was fifth at the last race, I said it was fun. If we have a race here, great. If we don’t, and win as we have been winning, it’s not going to change how I feel about the championship. I’ve worked hard to be where I am and so has the team.”
Mercedes are well aware of the burgeoning threat from Ferrari and Red Bull, and have not come here expecting to dominate as of right.
“Everyone that wins is a serious threat,” Hamilton said. “Ferrari qualified high in Malaysia so have been on our radar all year long. But I don’t focus on anyone else, just on getting my car to be as quick as it can be, and that’s what the whole team does. We let the bosses worry about all the other stuff.”
A question mark still hangs over Red Bull’s future engine supply, with Ferrari uncertain about providing them with power units after their upcoming divorce from Renault and possible longer-term partner Volkswagen’s fraud allegations causing the German manufacturer a major headache in the United States.
Lotus, meanwhile, only received their sea freight at midday on Thursday and the financially beleaguered team have not been allowed to use their allotted hospitality unit.Reuse content