Lewis Hamilton admits he has underperformed at the start of the 2018 Formula 1 season, adding his current form is “not sufficient” to win the world championship. 

The reigning world champion heads into this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix four points ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, having claimed a shock victory in a crazy Azerbaijan Grand Prix last time out. 

Hamilton was untouchable in Australian Grand Prix qualifying and looked set to win the 2018 season-opener until a Virtual Safety Car period turned the lead-battle on its head. 

Having battled his way to the podium following a grid penalty in Bahrain, Hamilton said he was lost in “no man’s land” during a low-key run to fourth in China, before claiming an unlikely victory in Baku following a late tyre blowout for teammate Valtteri Bottas - who Hamilton admitted deserved to win. 

Barcelona F1 GP Sizzling Moments

“If this weekend we happen to have got on top of the issues we have with the car and start to be more consistent then I can be a lot happier because I know then I can punch either at my weight or a little bit above my weight,” Hamilton told reporters at the Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday. 

“At the moment I am punching below my weight, and that is not sufficient enough to win a world championship. We have been capitalising on circumstances like the outcome of the last race, so I will take it for now but in the long term the team cannot continue to rely on that.”

And Hamilton said he finds no comfort in his recently-claimed lead in the world championship standings. 

“I have zero comfortability. Since the last race I have not thought for one second that I am leading the world championship, it is not in my mind, it is not that it is not important to me, it is just empty at the moment. 

“There is a long, long way to go. Imagine if I got excited now knowing that we still have all the problems, it doesn’t mean anything, what is important is where you are in the end of the year.”

But the Briton is confident Mercedes has got a better understanding of the complexities of its 2018 F1 contender and believes his team will be in a stronger position in Barcelona. 

“I think knowledge wise we are in a better position than we were in the last four races so I’d like to think we’ll be in a better place this weekend. We’ve had all the testing here so hopefully some parts of that will give us - not that it will give us more than anyone else - because everyone was testing here but hopefully that puts us better this weekend.”