Lewis Hamilton insists that he still has a lot of work to do if he is to clinch his third straight F1 world title, and fourth overall, over the remaining nine rounds of 2016.
The Briton extended his championship advantage over Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg by winning the German's home race immediately before the summer shutdown but, despite sitting on a 19-point cushion, maintains that his early season misfortunes mean that he still has hurdles to overcome before he can be sure of clinching the crown.
Despite taking pole position for the opening rounds in Australia and Bahrain, Hamilton had to watch as Rosberg reeled off four wins to start the season, with results of seventh and fifth in China and Bahrain respectively keeping him some way adrift of his team-mate and rival over the first half of the campaign.
“It was just a bad run,” Hamilton said. “A lot of poles, difficult starts, collisions, gearbox failure, engine failures. I think that's it in a nutshell… Since then, I've not really had a problem. I felt that I performed good [sic
] on most of those weekends.
"I think that the ones that I really look at are China, the start at China which could have been avoided, and Baku, which I was easily the fastest. It was a very easy win to have and I didn't take advantage of that.”
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Ironically, Hamilton's season has turned around since the nadir of colliding with Rosberg on the opening lap in Barcelona, an accident which removed both Mercedes from the race and allowed Max Verstappen to take a victory that prevents Mercedes from achieving a potential clean sweep in 2016.
Hamilton's fifth place in Azerbaijan, in a race won by Rosberg, is the only time Hamilton has not stood on the top step of the podium since Spain but, more importantly, he headed into the summer break with a 19-point lead where once he trailed the German by 43 points.
However, those early mechanical issues continue to be a spectre over Hamilton's shoulder, giving the world champion greater reason to remain focused.
“Personally, I don't think [being ahead on points] is really that important,” he stressed, “For sure, entering the summer break not 43 points behind is important, but it doesn't really make… I've got less engines, so I know that I've still got a steep hill ahead of me and, whilst I'm ahead, I'm not really ahead, because I'm going to start last somewhere. [There's] at least in one race where I will have to start last, so I'm actually still behind - but very close.”
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