Lewis Hamilton “enjoying” the “short term” chase of Red Bull more than his dominant era in F1

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Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

The last 15 months or so is arguably the toughest Lewis Hamilton has faced on the circuit during his time in Formula One.

After the highly controversial and heartbreaking ending to the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that saw him lose out on the title to Max Verstappen, Hamilton has not had a proper opportunity to fight for a title since.

We’re currently in a phase dominated by Max Verstappen and Red Bull. Hamilton lived through that era from 2014-2020, winning six out of a possible seven Drivers’ Championships at Mercedes.

The 38-year-old spoke about what it’s like and how “it gets easier once you get used to it” when you have a car that is dominant at the front of the field for many different reasons.

“I think it’s just when you get on top of the car and you know that the car works in this window and it’s consistent, it’s much easier to get that setup. When you’re with the car like with the car I have for example, you’re trying every different combination and setup to try and eek out a little more performance.

“But when you have performance in hand, you’re not necessarily always having to make risky choices throughout practice in order to get that extra half a tenth or 0.07 of a tenth.

“You don’t have to push the bodywork as tight as possible and put the engine on the limit of the temperature because you have a little bit of breathing space. And then you don’t have to push the tyres as hard. You can lift and coast a little bit more which ultimately means longer stints. All these different things that just compound and work towards.”

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Although on the outside it may look relatively straightforward to consistently win races in the fastest car by a margin, Hamilton explained that staying in the zone and performing at his best was criticial in avoiding mistakes.

“The more you practice the easier it gets I would say. But the thing is you still have a job to do, you still have to go out there and deliver and you still have to be focused, you still can’t make mistakes, you still have to make the right decisions, and that comes with a lot of pressure.

“So, for me, it was easy just to stay focused on the job ahead and focus on the things that I can control which is my performance and making sure the team’s consistently pushing forward.”

Photo credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

“I never got tired of it, I never got comfortable. Damn it’s a great feeling when you’ve got a car you can compete with on the weekend.”

The seven-time World Champion admitted he’s enjoying the challenge of trying to get to the front with his team, as long as it doesn’t end up becoming a long term project to do so.

“From our point, our perspective, we know we’re not fighting for a win, so it’s arriving hopeful that we’re able to find a little bit of magic through the weekend and every small decision and every position that you gain in qualifying makes that difference. I would say I’m enjoying this more, for the short term though.”

This is definitely a positive step from Hamilton. After years of being untouchable at the top and his reign being brought to an end in controversial fashion, he is properly having to fight to get back to winning ways. With the Canadian Grand Prix just a few days away, Hamilton could be rewarded for his persistence at one of his favourite circuits.