Lewis Hamilton, who has been comprehensively beaten by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in recent races, is determined not to enter “a negative bubble” brought on by worrying about his Formula One world title hopes.
Hamilton trails Verstappen by 18 points with eight of potentially 23 meetings completed. At last week’s Styrian Grand Prix, Verstappen’s Red Bull went at a pace Mercedes could not match. Before Hamilton took a late stop to go for the fastest lap, Verstappen enjoyed an enormous advantage, a full 15-second lead over the British driver.
It was Verstappen’s fourth win this season and Red Bull’s fourth in a row. Their car is quicker in a straight line than the Mercedes and Hamilton was unequivocal last week that his team needed to make improvements to their car if they were to maintain their challenge.
Speaking before this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, the second race in a row to take place at the Red Bull Ring, Hamilton said he was focused only on helping his team improve.
“I can’t get tied up and get into the negative bubble of worrying,” he said. “All I am trying to do is put all my energy into making sure I am best prepared, helping the engineers be best prepared. We have had lots of great conversations and this is the time when we come together and unite and work as hard as we can to rectify whatever issues we have. That’s what we do, that’s why we are world champions. I have confidence in the team that we can do that.”
This week the Mercedes technical director, James Allison, said that his team have car upgrades in the pipeline and are investigating what improvements can be made to their engine within the rules, given that engine development is frozen.
Seven-times drivers’ champion Hamilton has not had a points deficit of this magnitude since the Austrian GP in 2017, after which he was 20 points behind Sebastian Vettel. The Mercedes driver, who won three of the first four races this season, maintains that though his most recent victory was in Spain four races ago it is too early to suggest the title is slipping away.
“I don’t find myself being concerned as such,” he said. “Of course, we are pushing as hard as we can, we would love to have more pace to challenge not only in qualifying but in the races. They have taken a step ahead of us so we are just working as hard as we can to see if we can close that gap, and we are not halfway through the season. I am still fighting and chasing for this title.”