Lewis Hamilton admits Mercedes is still trying to get on top of its 2019 Formula 1 car, which he says is “harder to work with” compared to its predecessor.

Mercedes drivers Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas struggled with balance issues throughout pre-season testing but things significantly improved with the introduction of a revised aerodynamic package ahead of the second week of running in Barcelona.

Despite labelling rival Ferrari as the favourites heading into 2019, Mercedes has made the best start to an F1 season since 1992 by recording three straight one-two finishes, even though it has not boasted the outright fastest car at all three rounds so far.

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“So far the car’s a little bit harder to work with this year - definitely not easier,” Hamilton explained.

“It’s a combination of things. Every year you’ve got tyre issues, which seems a little bit more complex than last year, but in the beginning of every season we always struggle.

“Everyone is trying to understand the different tyre windows - the windows of these tyres are even more narrow than it has been in the past, which was pretty small before and it’s even smaller now.

“Keeping up the pressure every weekend or every year so it gets harder and harder. they built a car to work on 21 tracks, or to make it work on as many circuits, so trying to find the balance is very, very difficult because it’s never the perfect balance.

“Each one is kind of an average balance that might work everywhere. But when the tyres then come into it, then also the engine, it gets harder and harder.

“But as we get through the season we’ll learn more and more and I think we’ve definitely lucked out at least in one race win, you know which is in Bahrain, but we were pretty good in the race at least. Then the last race obviously was spectacular for us.”

Hamilton is confident Mercedes has made progress in understanding both the strengths and weaknesses of its W10 challenger, though he is expecting a strong response from Ferrari at this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“I don’t believe we have any upgrades this weekend - we do have stuff coming in the pipeline but this wasn’t a planned race for us,” Hamilton said.

“But we have understood a lot of analysis, where our weaknesses were, where our strengths were in the last race.

“I hope coming here we have a better understanding already compared to what we did in the first three, but they [Ferrari] are quick on the straights, so I anticipate they’ll be very, very strong this weekend.

“Of course this is far better than we anticipated at the start of the season and something that everyone has worked so hard for in the team,” he added. “So we’re really proud of the result we have so far, but also aware there’s a long long way to go.

“[There are] lots of positives to take from it, just keep our heads down and just keep working at it, as the others are. I hope the second half of the season gets stronger but I can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future all we can do is just take it one race at a time.”

Additional reporting by Julianne Cerasoli.

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