14 March 2015
F1 Australian Grand Prix: Hamilton takes ‘first step to better start’
Lewis Hamilton claimed another Australian Grand Prix pole position, but now hopes to find better fortune on F1 raceday in Melbourne.
While he was able to twice overcome sizeable points deficits to Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg en route to winning the 2014 F1 world championship, Lewis Hamilton has already earmarked an easy route to repeat success this year.
The Briton, who hasn't won 'down under' since his debut F1 campaign, reprised his opening round pole position from 2014 with a blistering lap of Albert Park that left Rosberg 0.6secs adrift at the end of qualifying, but remembers all to well that the euphoria of the achievement last season lasted all of two laps before his car was forced into retirement by a mechanical gremlin.
With reliability a much stronger point of the W06 – witness the number of laps Hamilton and Rosberg were able to rack up in pre-season testing – the Briton is more confident that he will see the chequered flag on Sunday, and acknowledges that he will need to do so with Rosberg less likely to be afflicted as well.
“It's not that its not important [to win the first race] as last year showed that, even if I didn't have a good first race it's not the end of the world,” he noted, “Of course, the plan tomorrow is to have a better start to the season, and today's the first step in that direction.
“We had a difficult start to the season last year, so definitely, as a team, as a whole, we are hoping for a better start for both cars and to succeed tomorrow, so we're going to make sure we do that. There's a lot of work to be done tonight to study for the race tomorrow – it's a huge challenge still.”
Having played second fiddle to Rosberg throughout Friday practice, Hamilton took control of both Saturday sessions, annexing top spot each time as he claimed a 39th career pole on the back of a dominant Mercedes performance that served to underline the deficiencies of its rivals.
“It's been a great start to the weekend,” the reigning world champion claimed, “It doesn't feel like it's been a long time since the last race, so it's been a big rush and a huge effort from all the guys back at the factory to enable us to come here and have this performance and I feel incredibly blessed to have this car.
“Today, we found a good balance and it was just about trying to push in those laps. It's so much fun when you get into qualifying and you have those single laps that you have to push. I'm just massively grateful for all the work that has gone in.”
Hamilton converted six of seven poles into victory last season, but insists that, just as starting from the front of the grid does not necessarily guarantee Sunday success, neither is achieving it akin to magic.
“There isn't a real secret,” Hamilton claimed, “It's hard work in the evening before and, on the day, just understanding the strategy, tuning into your limitations and strengths. Fuel and tyre situ, diff settings - you need to be able to juggle all of those and, obviously, you all need to be on form as a team, capitalising on the opportunities that you do have. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but you try to make it the first one more often.”
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