Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is hopeful his season will be less “up and down” going forward after an uneven start to the 2017 Formula 1 campaign.
Hamilton had lost crucial points in the title contest with frustrating outings in Sochi and Monaco, although both races were followed by respective confident wins in the Spanish and Canadian grands prix.
With Baku coming up next, Hamilton – who had endured a disappointing weekend there last year – is cautious about his prospects, but he believes real progress has been made in more consistently extracting performance from Mercedes’ current W08 car.
He said in Canada: “Obviously we’ve had a great weekend, but I can’t really predict what’s going to happen. We’re going to go to another race – Baku is very smooth, a bit like Russia.
“For us, personally getting the car where we need it every weekend is definitely a challenge. But I think we’ve learned a lot from Monaco, I think we’ve learned a lot [from Canada].
“If we acquire the same diligence that we did in the past two weeks after every single race, even when we win, I’m pretty sure that we can continue to fight, and maybe not make the rollercoaster ride so up and down.”
Hamilton reckoned the turnaround from Monaco to Montreal was some of his team’s most impressive work and compared it favourably to the recovery from its worst slump of the 2014-’16 era – the Singapore GP weekend of 2015.
“I think in Singapore it was a bit more of an unknown, what happened then,” he said. “I definitely came away even after two weeks still not fully understanding why we were in the position we were in. It was a bit like that for all of us, even though we did come back.
“This time, as I said, the teamwork, the engineering, was so much better. We really understood where we went wrong, we really understood where the car was wrong, why we couldn’t activate the tyres.
“We came here actually with real knowledge rather than an idea of what potentially might have been the case, and ‘we’ll try a couple of them’. We actually came here with a real know-how of how to fix it.”
Canada fastest lap was for data
In Canada, Hamilton surprised most observers by setting the fastest race lap on lap 64, running a second faster than he had previously, and at a time when he was comfortably ahead of his teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Rather than an act of showboating, Hamilton – whose late benchmark helped him wrap up his fourth career ‘grand chelem’ (pole, victory, every lap led and fastest lap) – insisted he was gathering useful data for himself and his engineers.
“It was not for fun, it was just I had not really had to put the car on the limit during the race,” he explained. “When I come back and do my engineering I have to give back information, and get a lot of information, from doing 70 laps of the track.
“There are several different states you can put the car in, and I was like ‘one lap I need to put the car properly on the limit’. To see firstly how the tyres react – do they wake up, do they get better, do they get worse, does the car react differently on the kerbs?
“I did a great lap, and we gained a lot of information on that lap to be able to carry on. If I hadn’t done that lap, I would have come out of an hour and 45 minutes, or whatever it is, with a little bit less information.”