Lewis Hamilton says he is finding enjoyment in chasing performance with Mercedes, despite not competing for regular wins in Formula 1 in 2023.
The Mercedes driver has enjoyed an extremely successful time with his current team, having made the switch to join them from McLaren at the end of 2012.
Hamilton has claimed six world championships, 81 wins and 78 pole positions at Mercedes but has not won since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The winless streak was unprecedented at the dawn of the new regulations, as nobody expected Mercedes to be so uncompetitive with their 2022 car.
With the lack of success, and Hamilton being the second oldest driver on the grid behind Fernando Alonso, his motivation has been questioned by pundits and conversations of a retirement have been floated around F1 discourse.
“From our point of perspective, we know we’re not fighting for a win,” Hamilton said to select members of the media, including Total-Motorsport.com. “So it’s arriving with hope that you’re able to find a little bit of magic through the weekend.
“Every small decision, every position that you get in qualifying makes that difference and I would say I’ve been enjoying this more, for the short term.”
What are the benefits of a lap time advantage?
F1 has undergone several periods of dominance this century. It took a long time to beat Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull, Hamilton himself at Mercedes and now Max Verstappen at Red Bull.
Hamilton, who is expected to sign a new deal to stay at Mercedes beyond 2023, explained the many benefits of having the car to beat in F1.
“When you know that the car works in this window, and it’s consistent, it’s much easier to get it into that set-up,” said Hamilton.
“When you’re with a car that I have, for example, you’re trying everything, every different set-up, to try and eke out a little bit more performance.
“But when you have performance in hand, you’re not necessarily always having to make risky choices throughout practice.
“You don’t have to push the bodywork as tight as possible, put the engine on the rim of the temperature because you have a little bit of breathing space.
“Then you don’t have to push the tyres as hard, so you can lift and coast a bit more, which ultimately means longer stints.”
The 38-year-old added: “But you still have a job to do, you still have to go out there and deliver it, you still have to focus and you still cannot make mistakes, and that comes with a lot of pressure.”
Where is the next F1 2023 race?
With the F1 circus finished in Spain, the next race is the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix which will be held at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal over the weekend of June 16-18.