Hamilton: ‘I’m a fighter’

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After less than exciting tests, Lewis Hamilton told the press on Thursday that Mercedes’ start to the season could prove difficult. But that shouldn’t discourage him as he comes to the end of his contract.

After a 2022 season to forget, Lewis Hamilton does not approach the first round of the 2023 championship under the best auspices. At the wheel of a W14 which took over the concept seen last year, the seven-time world champion came out of pre-season testing with some doubts about the potential of his new single-seater. “As soon as I got behind the wheel of the car, I knew where we are and what are the challenges we will have to face”he confided this Thursday during the press conference prior to the Bahrain Grand Prix.

His teammate George Russell did not deny, assuring that “this weekend looks complicated if we want to be in the fight for victory”. For the winner of the Brazilian Grand Prix last year, the result of the first round of the season is hardly in doubt. “Red Bull Racing will be alone in the world this weekend but there should be a great battle for second place with Ferrari and Aston Martin”he confided, adding that he does not see “reason justifying that we are not in the battle over the course of the season”.

Hamilton believes in his team more than ever

Despite an ambient pessimism at the Silver Arrows, George Russell assures that the German team is “in a better position” compared to the start of pre-season testing last week. For Lewis Hamilton, the main good news from this preliminary run is the absence of an unpleasant trait from the W13 driven in 2022. “Not having a rebound is a huge advantage, he told reporters. Trying to figure out what our worries are as we went through the rebound made it difficult to isolate the issues. We don’t have it anymore and we can focus on pure performance. »

Claiming that Mercedes “remains the team that has won many titles”, Lewis Hamilton intends to give everything to be at the forefront even if the competition will also be there. “I hope those behind Red Bull Racing can keep them under pressure,” said the seven-time world champion. Ferrari has an interesting set, Aston Martin also and we are also on the hunt. »

Hamilton can’t see Verstappen letting go

As he enters the last year of his contract and no extension has yet been announced, Lewis Hamilton ensures that he will be reckoned with for the future. “Whether or not we have a difficult year, I will always be there. I am a fighter and we fight as a team. I love the challenge of finding solutions to problems and I’m still confident that I can take this car to places others wouldn’t be able to reach. »

If the W14 is not necessarily the leap forward hoped for by Mercedes, the Briton does not see an element that can convince him not to stay beyond the 2023 season. “I obviously hoped to start this season with a good car but we have a long road ahead of us, he admits. There is no blocking element concerning my contract. I am very relaxed, it will be concluded when we are ready. »

Asked about the state of mind of Max Verstappen, who remains on two world titles and could experience weariness, Lewis Hamilton brushed it aside. “I don’t think Max Verstappen will lose motivation, he assured. He is world champion and I will not question his determination and his concentration. » If the RB19 is the dreaded absolute weapon, the Dutchman could find a great source of motivation there.

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