Lewis Hamilton says he has been texting his absent long-term Mercedes race engineer Pete Bonnington about his Formula 1 car’s set-up at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Bonnington, who is referred to as ‘Bono’ within Mercedes’ ranks, has worked alongside Hamilton throughout his seven-year tenure at the German manufacturer, with the pair striking up a formidable partnership that has yielded four of the Briton’s five world championship titles.

But for the next two races in Mexico and the United States, Hamilton is being engineered by his performance engineer Marcus Dudley while Bonnington remains in the UK following a medical procedure.

Despite his absence from the Mexico City paddock, Hamilton said he and Bonnington have remained in contact over the weekend and exchanged messages regarding his W10’s set-up before qualifying.

“Bono has been there with me for seven years, so it’s the longest working relationship that I’ve had with an engineer,” Hamilton explained.

“It definitely feels weird coming into this weekend knowing that we’ve experienced so much together and achieved so much together.

“But he’s here with us in spirit and he’s worked so hard last week, along with Marcus, who has done a fantastic job so far this weekend, he’s really stepped up to the plate.

“It’s going to be quite nerve-wracking because those are quite big shoes to fill. But the guys are really taking it in their stride.

“I’ve worked really closely with Bono and even before qualifying I was texting Bono just talking about set-up, so he’s still within it but just a bit bored on his couch,” he added.

“He’s at the factory but hopefully he’ll make it to the next race because the relationship is really important and communication is really key.

“The pressure is immense for all of us, and it’s definitely not easy being the number one but Bono manages it really well.

“Marcus has jumped in and immediately feel the pressure. I don’t try to put pressure on but naturally it’s a pressured environment, but he seems to have taken it in his stride.”

Hamilton, who starts third on the grid for Sunday’s 71-lap Mexican Grand Prix, can clinch a sixth drivers’ world title if he outscores Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by at least 14 points.

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