Hamilton admits Mercedes F1 car "difficult to drive"

Lewis Hamilton has admitted that his Mercedes is a difficult F1 car to drive, and that finding the sweet spot with it is challenging both him and his engineers.

Hamilton admits Mercedes F1 car "difficult to drive"
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Race winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, climbs in to his car in the garage, prior to heading to the front of the grid

Although Hamilton has won two Formula 1 races so far this season, the team has faced an ever-present threat from Sebastian Vettel, who currently leads the world championship.

And ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, where Ferrari is bidding to end a 16-year victory drought, Hamilton has revealed how hard he and his team are having to work to extract speed out of the Mercedes W08.

"I quite like that the car is difficult to drive," explained the Briton. "It's like you watch people get on the bull, jump on the bull and try to tame the bull, try to tame a horse. It's the same kind of feeling you get in this car, when it's not easy, when it's a challenge.

"There are cars I've had in the past which have been beautiful to drive and very easy, a lot easier to set up. I like that this is a challenge, it really puts myself and my engineers on the edge.

"And it really makes us have to be a lot more meticulous with the decisions we make, the direction in which we go, and how I also have to work a lot harder to balance the car. You saw obviously over the radio in the last race. That's the fight of it.

"Over the year the car will continue [to improve], as we understand it more and more, understand the tyres and understand the tools that we have, we'll refine them and the car will get easier to drive for sure."

Vettel response

While Mercedes has to work hard to find a good balance with its car, Ferrari has found its SF70H to be quick in all conditions.

But Vettel, who has also won two races this year, has played down the impact of the different characteristics and says that all that really matters is speed.

Asked for a response to Hamilton's description of his car as a bucking bronco, Vettel said: "I don't know – maybe I don't find flowery words just to describe his car…

"I think we have a good car. We are happy both the way it handles, and obviously you are always trying to do your best. If you are quick it doesn't matter how you manage to string it together.

"But, if you look at the end [result], that is what matters, that is what we are here to do, so sometimes it feels easier, sometimes it feels harder, it is always enjoyable if you can string it together and get a good lap out of it, or a lot of laps in the race.

"I haven't driven any other cars this year and I am not planning to, so I am happy with what we have. But we want to improve it. We are not happy where it stands now, we want to make sure it is better for the next race."

Wheelbase difference

As well as the balance issues, Mercedes is unsure about the impact that its long wheelbase car will have on its form around the tight Monaco streets – and on whether it can get its tyres switched on.

"The very tight section in the middle section is going to be where the car is difficult to turn, I would imagine," he said. "It may not be the case. But being longer, it's harder to rotate all the car.

"This weekend's going to be tough, I don't know if our car...we were very good in the last sector of the last race, in the slow section. Does that mean we'll be good here, being that it's mostly a slow section - or being that we have a long car, does that mean we'll struggle?

"Ferrari generally are able to switch their tyres on a little bit easier than us, does that mean that we are in trouble this weekend or not? I'll find out tomorrow."

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