Hamilton sees ‘steep mountain’ climb

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Manchester United’s English striker Wayne Rooney controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on Wednesday. AFP PHOTO

Manchester United’s English striker Wayne Rooney controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on Wednesday. AFP PHOTO

Reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton knows very well the need to upstage his Mercedes AMG team-mate Nico Rosberg on this Monday’s Spanish Grand Prix if he wants to get back into title contention.

“The situation is what it is, so there’s no point in being concerned. I’ve just got to work hard to move forward. I have fewer engines than Nico, fewer than probably a few of the drivers, so I’ve just got to do what I can with what I have and for sure, it’s a steep mountain to climb. But I love a challenge, so I’m kind of excited about it,” Hamilton told F1.com over the weekend.

Hamilton enters the race at Barcelona weekend second in the driver standings with on 57 points to Rosberg’s 100. His German team-mate has won the first four races of the season. The Spanish Grand Prix is this season’s fifth in the 21-race calendar.

There are some who believe Hamilton is less motivated after equalling his idol Ayrton Senna’s three titles, but this view ignores his recent mechanical troubles that have been well beyond his control. And he was quick to deny that he wants to go back to the mechanics who worked on his cars last year as he pinpointed the source of his problems.


“I have no intention or any wish to move anyone around, there’s nothing to do. The issues we’ve had have had nothing to do with the mechanics. They’ve been doing a fantastic job both for Nico and me over the last three and a half years. That is not a concern. I’ve got a hundred percent belief in this team and in those guys,” he added.

While Hamilton is aware of the challenge from Rosberg, Mercedes AMG still believes Ferrari is strong despite the Italian team’s failing to win any of the first races.

“I think Ferrari are constantly improving their car,” Hamilton said. “I think this weekend they’re obviously going to have some upgrades, as you would expect for Barcelona. I think they’ve been very, very close up until now. They’re going to continue to strive. They want to win; they’re very, very hungry – as are we.”

Mercedes AMG leads the Constructor standings with 157 points and Ferrari trails with 76.

Radio use restrictions
As for Rosberg, he is happy to do the extra technical homework required as he has roared to the top of this year’s drivers’ world championship with a run of four straight wins.

The 30-year-old German has praised the new direction of Formula One, thanks to restrictions on the use of drivers’ team radio and a need for more individual initiative and pre-race preparation.

In what could be seen as a thinly-veiled jab at his Mercedes team-mate Hamilton’s more “laissez-faire’” approach to racing, the championship-leader said the ban on radio instructions meant that drivers could no longer rely on other people’s guidance alone.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya, set in the industrial hinterland north of Barcelona, he said the ban had ended an era of “muppets” at the wheel.

He told Autosport that television viewers had stopped thinking that “we looked like ‘muppets’ directed by our engineers on radio.”

Under this year’s rules, they must now drive the cars “alone and unaided,” a move that defending three-time champion Hamilton said would make his job more difficult.

It will be “a lot harder,” the Briton said before the 2016 season began.

THE TIMES WITH AFP

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