Despite the increased competition from Red Bull, Hamilton has enjoyed his best-ever start to a season with 94 points to his name, one more than at this stage in 2015.

Mercedes and Red Bull have been evenly matched across the opening four rounds of the campaign. 

While Hamilton has three wins to his name in 2021, Red Bull has often been within a tenth in qualifying and pushed the seven-time world champion hard on race day.

Had it not been for a track limits violation in Bahrain, it would be two wins apiece.

Speaking after Hamilton's latest victory at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Shovlin admits he was surprised to hear that it was his best-ever start to an F1 season.

“It does a bit. It does a bit… he’s doing a good job isn’t he?” Shovlin said. “To be honest, in Bahrain winter testing, what you could see with Lewis was that he realised, that he and the team were going to have to be absolutely perfect to be able to go out there and win races, and you also realised that one bad test wasn’t an indication to him that this would be a championship that he’s not in the running for.

“It surprises me that stat because you think this is the least competitive margin that we’ve had for a number of years but what I would say is he has arrived in a frame of mind that is just about maximising every little opportunity - be it on track, be it in the setup, be it in how we approach the weekend and he brought that to Bahrain and we’ve not seen it wain at all since.”

Hamilton sits 14 points ahead of Verstappen in the race for the drivers’ title as F1 heads to Monte Carlo next weekend for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Shovlin believes the iconic street circuit will favour Red Bull given it didn’t run its max downforce package in Barcelona, while Mercedes did.

“On paper, I would say it would suit Red Bull more than us,” Shovlin said. “Partly because we’ve been running our max downforce wing and we saw it on their car on Friday but they didn’t race it here so they can put a bit more downforce on. 

On paper, it’s probably for them but then we’ve had good pace in the slow speed here - that’s normally a good indicator for Monaco and Monaco is an awfully difficult race to win and even if you go there with the best car and you’ve got a great package, it's still an awfully difficult race to win. 

“We will see where we are and if we’re not the quickest then we will try and make their life difficult.”

 

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