Lewis Hamilton thinks Mercedes have a better chance of a strong result in Spain
Mercedes driver hoping to improve on fifth from Bahrain
By Pete Gill and James Galloway in Barcelona. Last Updated: 10/05/13 11:55am
After an encouraging finish in Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton is hopeful that lower temperatures in Barcelona and a new hard tyre compound will help Mercedes deliver a strong performance in this week's Spanish GP.
Although Hamilton's team-mate Nico Rosberg qualified on pole for the desert race, severe rear-tyre degradation saw the German plummet down the field on race day while the Englishman, having finished on the podium in both Malaysia and China, could only claim a modest fifth.
But the 2008 World Champion has taken heart from his strong display throughout the second-half of the grand prix as well as the decision of Pirelli to tweak their hard tyre so it more closely resembles last year's compound.
"On my side of the garage, the race [in Bahrain] was quite positive - at least the second-half," the Mercedes driver commented during a press briefing at the Circuit de Catalunya.
"I'm excited about what we learnt and hopefully we can bring it here. We also have the new harder tyre which will hopefully play into our hands a little bit more, and with the [lower] temperatures, I think we stand a better chance."
Moreover, Hamilton believes that his progress during the latter stages of the race in Bahrain indicate that Mercedes' problems with tyre degradation may not be as acute as previously feared.
"You are always trying to mininise how much sliding you do and how much temperature you are putting into the tyres," he commented. "I did the same thing at the start of the race as I did at the end and the car went quicker in the second-half because the car's balance improved. The positive is that the tyres can last long and we don't have as bad degradation as some people think."
Hamilton's early-season form for his new employers has confounded the widespread scepticism which greeted his decision to leave McLaren for Mercedes at the close of 2012. Third in the standings, Hamilton currently trails World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel by just thirty points in the title race.
But as the former championship winner knows full well, there is a long way still to travel before a genuine championship challenge can be proclaimed.
"What we've achieved so far has been incredible and we won't take it for granted, but hopefully we will have better results going forward," he remarked.
"We have an upgrade package just like everyone else here, but this team does things differently to what I was used to in the past [at McLaren] where you didn't do much in the first four races in terms of upgrades and then had a new package for the European season. This team tries to bring upgrades for every race."
Mercedes' efforts to improve the W04 have included a simulator session for Robert Kubica, the former Renault driver whose career was brought to a shuddering halt over two years ago when he suffered a horrific accident whilst rallying.
"It's fantastic if he is back driving because I grew up racing Robert he is absolutely one of the best," added Hamilton.
Now it's over to Mercedes to prove that they are too are among the best this weekend in Barcelona.