Lewis Hamilton goes into this weekend’s German Grand Prix in ‘reset’ mode after closing the championship lead of his team mate Nico Rosberg down to just four points with ten races remaining.
All season long the battle between them has been very close, with Hamilton letting himself down three times in a row in qualifying, so this is one area where he will be looking to execute flawlessly on Saturday afternoon.
Interestingly, he has highlighted the abundance of data and the disclosure and transparency between the two sides of the garage as a reason why the battle with Rosberg is swinging both ways, rather than with Hamilton prevailing, as usually happened in their karting and junior racing careers.
“In karting there is no data. There are no pit stops, it’s nothing to do with brake temperatures or how much every you have in the boost button,” Hamilton told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“So when you have an advantage, you carry that advantage. The guy behind can’t see that anywhere.
“The way technology is now (in F1) there is so much information, it is so hard to have anything concealed. Like the experience I had with Fernando (Alonso at McLaren in 2007). When I got to F1 I thought, “Jeez Fernando’s so quick and he is using all these different techniques”. But fortunately there was data. If there wasn’t data I wouldn’t have been able to beat him that year.
“So there are times when Nico is ahead and I’m able to see those things. And there are times when I’m ahead and he’s able to see it. For example the fuel usage. After the last race they found out how I’m saving fuel and he’ll be aware of that now and maybe he’ll be a lot closer on fuel usage.
“Every time that small bit of an advantage disappears, be it him or me, you have always got to find something new.”
All season it has been very close between Hamilton and Rosberg, with the odd fraction of a second here and there being the difference in qualifying while in the race a slightly delayed pit stop has sometimes switched the order.
Hamilton admits that this makes it very stressful, but he wouldn’t have it any other way,
“It is, but that’s the name of the game,” he said. “It’s great that it’s so close. I’ve never ever in my career wanted to have a year where you just drive half-hearted and you get a win. You want to feel like you’ve done everything, every ounce of sweat that comes off you every ounce of energy you pit in has been done for the good of getting a win and there’s nothing better than that feeling when you get the win. If you outsmart or outwit the other guy and it’s been like that with my team mate.”
Rosberg is ahead 5-4 on qualifying but Hamilton is ahead with 5 wins to Rosberg’s 3. There is no doubt that pole position gives the upper hand on starts, gives priority to the lead driver on race strategy and pit stops and makes life generally easier. So Hamilton will be focussed on that in Hockenheim,
“It’s become more and more apparent to me that qualifying is a really important part of the season. It’s so hard to overtake the guy in the same car, the only way is through the pit stops, ” he said. “So you have to take the high ground, but it’s not easy, because sometimes Nico’s quick, sometimes I’m quick.”
In the Mercedes preview to the German GP, Hamilton says that he feels the season is a reset for him, now that he is within four points of his team mate, less than the difference between first and second places in a race.
“I feel like I’ve been on the back foot all year, only briefly leading the Championship despite taking the wins I’ve had, so to have got myself just about level was exactly what I needed. It’s almost a fresh start heading into the second half of the season and it’s going to be a really close battle between us.”