Lewis Hamilton is calm about what could happen to Mercedes if they are hauled before a Formula One tribunal to explain their secret tyre test, but he is worried about his own form.
“I’m not concerned about it, that’s for the team to worry about,” the 2008 world champion said of his team’s apparent breaking of a ban on in-season testing by putting in 1,000 km with Pirelli in Spain.
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“I just have to focus on myself and try and get it together,” he told reporters after Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Hamilton started on the front row and finished fourth behind team mate Nico Rosberg who won from pole. It was the second race in a row the Briton had started in second place and failed to make the podium.
In Spain – where he finished 12th – it was all about the tyres “dropping off” dramatically in performance, but in Monaco it was more about Hamilton.
With Mercedes deciding to pit both drivers once the safety car had been deployed for the first time, Hamilton was told to keep a six-second gap to ensure a smooth stop without losing places. But he slowed down too much and slipped behind Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
Hamilton apologised to the team for the loss of what might have been a one-two finish and vowed to work harder.
“I don’t put it down to bad luck. I just wasn’t good enough over the weekend. The whole weekend has been a missed opportunity,” he said.
“I’ve got lots to sort out on my side of the garage, and within myself, and I’ll take time to do that. I’m not quick enough, not on it enough, so I need to get on it.”
After qualifying on what remains one of his favourite tracks, Hamilton had shed more light on the problems he is having in his first season at Mercedes after what seemed like a lifetime at McLaren.
While loving the freedom he has been given by his new team, and defending himself against critics questioning a lifestyle that includes bringing his pet bulldog Roscoe to races, Hamilton recognised he was still adjusting to his new surroundings.
Despite two podiums this season, the Briton said he had not felt fully comfortable in the car since the opening race in Australia.
“At McLaren I had 100 percent confidence in the car… particularly on this track where you need 100 percent confidence in the car beneath you”
“Actually, even in winter testing I was struggling,” he said.
“The setup they have on the car in terms of brake cylinders and all this kind of thing, the steering wheel, it’s a lot different to what I obviously experienced before, where I was very comfortable. I’d been there for years so I was used to it, it was always the same.
“That’s been the slight weakness for me this year. Even in the first few races, but particularly in the last couple, I’ve been pretty poor,” he said.
Hamilton said the problem was less to do with the engineers and more for him to deal with. Although he had struggled to get heat into the tyres, it was a confidence thing.
“It’s just a general feeling with me,” he explained.
“It’s difficult to really explain it. I’ve just not been on it all weekend.
“It’s not through not being focused, it’s not through not being centred. It’s just feeling comfortable in the car. At McLaren I had 100 percent confidence in the car… particularly on this track where you need 100 percent confidence in the car beneath you.
“It’s just that I’ve been struggling with getting that confidence.”