Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has said that Lewis Hamilton
may have been surprised by the pace of team-mate Nico Rosberg
so far this season.
Rosberg has taken three pole positions so far this year and took victory in Monaco, while Hamilton has a single pole and has yet to win since making the move to Mercedes from McLaren
over the winter.
Hamilton finished ahead of Rosberg in Canada at the weekend after a solid third place while he also managed to qualify ahead of the German having been quoted prior to the weekend as suggesting that he was eager to regain the confidence of the team around him after a difficult race day in Monaco.
However, Wolff insisted that Mercedes had never had any doubts about what Hamilton could do on track and said that recent races may have seen the 2008 title winner surprised by what his new team-mate was capable of.
"I don't have that feeling we lack confidence in him," Wolff was quoted by the Press Association
. "Maybe he has been surprised with Nico's pace. It has not always been clear compared to Michael (Schumacher) and in his time with Williams.
"Now he has proven he is really quick and this came as a surprise for Lewis, but I don't think it's a real problem. We saw he was very strong in Canada where he was on course for pole before he missed his braking in the last sector, which was really wet.
"I think we are going to see great races from Lewis. I've no doubt about that."
Much has been made of the freedom Hamilton has been granted so far this season, with some suggesting that the former McLaren
driver needed to focus
and had now been granted too much freedom by his new employers.
Wolff denied that that was the fact however, and insisted that Hamilton was living up the expectations of the team.
"We're trying to give him freedom, but I don't think it's the reason why he hasn't performed up to his expectations, although he has performed up to ours,” he said. "Nico obviously had a great run. He showed he is a top guy and a top driver, and it's been the best situation for our team.
"I guess it will eventually balance out, from one side and then to the other. But I don't think there is any specific reason at this stage to say he has a problem or is struggling severely. It is also still early in the season for him, he is just beginning with the team, whereas Nico has been here for a couple of years."