Lewis Hamilton has put trials and tribulations behind him and is raring to make his first British Grand Prix appearance for Mercedes this weekend in a car he says is better than last year’s McLaren.
With McLaren yet to finish higher than fifth this season, after winning seven races in 2012, the 2008 Formula 1 World Champion has no regrets about the move to Mercedes that many were still questioning only months ago.
He heads for Silverstone as one of four British drivers but the one with the best chance of victory, Mercedes already having won in Monaco thanks to Germany’s Nico Rosberg. They have also been on pole four times in seven races.
“I feel like I have a better car this year so I think we should be more competitive than we were last year,” he told reporters at the Mercedes factory, a short drive from Silverstone.
“It is definitely closer [to being able to win] than what I have had for a couple of years, so I am looking forward to seeing what the car can do,” he added. “I think the car will go really well here.”
Two clouds that hung over Hamilton at the last race in Canada have lifted. One was personal and the other was an international tribunal that could have imposed heavy sanctions on his team for a “secret” tyre test with Pirelli.
Last week’s hearing handed Mercedes a reprimand and ordered them to miss a young driver test in July, but neither punishment will have much impact on Hamilton or Rosberg.
In Montreal Hamilton had seemed abrupt and distant, telling reporters he had “things” on his mind, but on Tuesday he was relaxed again.
“I feel good. I am really happy,” he said. “My mind was a bit clouded [in Canada], [although] it didn’t really affect my weekend in terms of performance and being able to do the job, but I feel good. And I am looking forward to this weekend and just getting on with it.
“I can’t wait until Friday…And I am on the simulator tomorrow so I get to really focus on trying to nail the set-up, so we start on the right foot during the weekend.”
Hamilton, who was at McLaren in 2007 when the Woking team were fined a record $100 million and stripped of all their constructors’ points for a spying controversy, said that he had not allowed the tribunal to unsettle him.
“I tried my best not to give it much thought. [Team principal] Ross [Brawn] kept me in the loop and I’d get an email here and there from the lawyer explaining where we were,” he said.
“Of course, when I saw the team at the weekend it was a relief for everyone…that they could get on and start focusing on the next race. And I’m happy as well.”
Hamilton said the team was doing a great job, adding: “We’ve got into a good position so far and if we can get into an even better one that would be fantastic. They have been working so hard to get the results that we’ve had, a negative result was not needed.”
Although Hamilton would not have taken part in the young driver test, he said the lack of it would be a setback.
The test is the sole chance during the season for teams to try out new developments.
“That does suck a little bit,” said the Briton of the team’s exclusion. “It’s important because we had a lot planned, upgrades and stuff, on those three days.
“It’s also vital for the [reserve] drivers who are always on the simulator to test the tyres, and where they are, and come back in here and feed back so they continue working on developments and improving the simulator.
“It definitely puts us back a little bit but we’re going to have to try to figure out a way to recover it elsewhere.” (Reuters)
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