Lewis Hamilton admitted that he is ‘praying’ for an end to Mercedes’ porpoising problems ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix. The seven-time world champion still found time for a laugh and a joke, however, having previously spoken about the ‘relaxed’ atmosphere that comes with competing in Catalonia.
The mood has mostly been glum in the Mercedes garage this season. A rift between Hamilton and Toto Wolff in Emilia-Romagna was caught on camera, while the Brit lashed out over his team radio last time out in Miami.
But optimism remains that the team can get on top of their performance issues, which have left them unable to keep up with Ferrari and Red Bull. With a freshly-upgraded car, Hamilton discussed his hopes for the weekend ahead before cracking jokes about the year’s struggles so far.
“I’m always optimistic coming into a weekend,” he admitted to Sky Sports. “I’m praying, keeping hopes up on a daily basis and [I have] pure faith and trust in the team that we’re going to get there.”
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“When you get in the car and it starts jumping up and down, that’s usually when the optimism [drops],” he laughed. “I’m hoping it’s disappeared. Normally when your teeth start chattering at the end of the straight, the optimism fades a little bit.
“The men and women have been working so hard back at the factory, so we’re pulling tighter and tighter as a unit. I know they’ve been working so hard to bring the upgrades that we have. The potential is there for sure.”
Pit-lane pictures suggest that Mercedes have taken a leaf out of their rivals’ book by fitting winglets underneath the car, which are designed to improve air flow. Adjustments to the floor could have a direct impact on porpoising, and put an end to Hamilton’s ‘teeth-chattering’ struggles at high speed.
Red Bull and Ferrari have plenty of incentive to keep striving for more pace too. The two teams are separated by just five points in the Constructors’ Championship, and while the former held the advantage in Miami, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto suggests that they will respond with upgrades of their own in due course.
Hamilton is clearly in a relaxed mood heading back to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where he has raced plenty of times before. Pressure will still be on come race day, however, given that new team-mate George Russell has already opened up a 23-point advantage.
But if Hamilton’s prayers are answered, Mercedes’ season may become less about the two drivers competing amongst themselves and more about catching up to the grid’s heavy hitters.