Lewis Hamilton doubts Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix will be a flat-out race, believing all drivers will need to lift and coast in order to cool their cars in hot temperatures.

The air temperature hit 34ºC on Thursday at the Red Bull Ring, with the mercury expected to hit a similar level for Sunday’s race, causing a headache for drivers at teams on a circuit where braking performance and cooling are important.

Hamilton said he thought he would need to nurse his Mercedes W10 through the race in order to deal with the challenges caused by the temperatures and the circuit layout, hurting hopes of a flat-out race.

“I’m going to have to really nurture the car this weekend, which I don’t think is great for the fans in that element,” Hamilton said.

“The cars are too heavy, the brakes are on the maximum limit. We should be able to push flat out. It’s not going to be the same as Montreal where you can push the whole way. Montreal is cool, I could push the whole way, follow, be close - you won’t see that happening this weekend.

“There will be a lot of lift and coasting. There are only 10 corners, so that’s a lot of lift and coasting. Although there’s more overtaking here, there’s more opportunity, having to cool your car and pull back from a car in front of you might not be such a good thing.

“But I hope it’s still a good race.”

Hamilton heads into the Austria weekend leading the drivers’ championship by 36 points and chasing a fifth straight win after his best-ever start to a season.

But the Briton would not be drawn on whether he believed he was in the form of his life or not, saying there was still room for improvement.

“I think I’m doing alright, but I always feel like I can improve,” Hamilton said.

“I think last year, I felt like I got up to a really, really good place, and then starting back into a new car each year, it’s always a massive hill that you have to climb, and I definitely struggled with understanding these tyres as I do every year.

“But it’s slowly starting to come towards me and back to where I was towards the end of last year, in a really happy, comfortable spot.

“I feel a better driver than I was last year. Through experience, naturally each year you improve. I’m working towards being in the best place performance-wise, and mentally as well with my career. It’s always a work in progress.”

 

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