• ‘Spain result could easily be repeated if we get it wrong again’
• Mercedes must improve race pace at this weekend’s race
Lewis Hamilton’s new team-mate was found snoring in the Mercedes motor-homeon Wednesday, his head in the lap of the British driver who rubbed his ears affectionately. “He was out late last night,” said Hamilton, with a grin as wide as the paddock. “When I go to bed, he sits next to the bed or on it, and that’s how he snores.”
This might suggest that he is getting the better of Nico Rosberg, his old friend and sparring partner from karting days who has proved a more difficult adversary in qualifying than most people expected. But Hamilton was talking of Roscoe, his bulldog puppy who was making his second appearance of the season following his Barcelona debut two weeks ago.
Hamilton, who designs his own helmets, has even managed to work Roscoe on to the back of his headgear for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, and Roscoe appears to have contributed to his owner’s more relaxed attitude this season. He is fourth in the championship with 50 points after two thirds and two fifths in the opening four races.
That scoring record was spoiled in Barcelona where he finished 12th despite starting the race second behind Rosberg. He was desperately short of race pace, something Mark Webber alluded toon Wednesday, when he said: “Lewis was with [the winner] Fernando [Alonso] on lap six and still gets lapped. That’s not right.”
Hamilton said: “What I like about Mark is that he says a lot of things that are true. There are many things he can be pretty blunt about. I appreciate the comment from Mark. It makes me feel like there’s good respect there.
“What happened in Spain was tough to take at the time. Coming into the season I said I was prepared for bad results, and with the season having gone so well up until that point we were a bit on a high.
“To see us then go back that far was definitely a huge surprise and put us on the back foot a little. Spain could easily be repeated if we get it wrong again, although I don’t think it’s going to happen because we have learned from it, and we are learning and improving.
“Lots of work has gone on to understand why we went that way and to make sure it doesn’t happen again. As for myself, I feel positive about this weekend, I’m re-energised, refocused and ready for another challenge.”
Mercedes have taken the last three poles and there are many predicting they will have a fourth here and go on to win the race, given the difficulties with overtaking on the tight streets. Hamilton’s best chance of that happening is if there is a one-stop strategy, but given the problems Mercedes have had with their tyres, that is unlikely.
Hamilton’s form appears to have brought the best out of Rosberg, who said: “Lewis is an extremely tough rival. He was like that in go-karts where he was massively quick. To be team-mates with Lewis again really rings a bell and brings back memories of how difficult it was to time and time again to try to edge him out. It is exactly the same.
“A team-mate is important as a reference and it is important to beat him but I try to do my thing. I am quite pleased with how it has gone – but I want to see the poles translated into results. They are coming soon.”