After losing out to team-mate in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by nearly four tenths, Lewis Hamilton admits he has struggled with the development direction Mercedes have taken since the Singapore Grand Prix.
Speculation has surrounded the Briton ever since he secured his third world championship that he has “backed off” chasing race wins, to which Hamilton has repeatedly denied.
“We know what has changed on the car. I am just trying to figure out why I can’t seem to get a comfortable balance with the car,” Hamilton said.
“If you look before Singapore it was in the region between three to six tenths gap between myself and Nico in qualifying, apart from Barcelona where there was a problem with the tyre heaters so without that we would have been in a good position to fight for pole there, since then a lot of time has been lost.
“Whilst it looks like one side has gone a lot better, from our point of view as a team it has gotten worse.”
Despite not being able to wrap his head around the new developments Mercedes have introduced, reverting to an older set-up isn’t an option for the Briton.
“I think they said they don’t think they made the car particularly slower, but it definitely isn’t faster. And we can’t go back to what it was before because they don’t want to go back to what it was before,” Hamilton added.
“Today I was off quite a bit, so I anticipate I do have that slight loss in car performance. I tried to get around that loss and try to claw it back in some other ways of the setup. It was about exploring this weekend and we did the best we could with that exploring. If I was to come back into the weekend and start again, I don’t know what I would do differently but that is what I need to try and work on.”
Image via Mercedes AMG F1 Petronas