Lewis Hamilton: Leading championship means nothing at this stage

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Lewis Hamilton has admitted he must start punching above his weight in order to deliver a knockout blow to Sebastian Vettel in this year’s championship race.

Hamilton will head into the Spanish Grand Prix with a four-point title lead over his rival.

Far from the Mercedes’ dominance, which the sport has become accustomed to in recent years, it is Vettel’s Ferrari team which have boasted the most complete package this term.

Lewis Hamilton earned a dramatic victory in Azerbaijan
Lewis Hamilton earned a dramatic victory in Azerbaijan (Srdjan Suki/AP)

While Ferrari and Red Bull have also brought a series of upgrades to Spain, Valtteri Bottas topped the time sheets in the opening 90-minute session before Hamilton then led the way later in the day.

Mercedes’ renewed form is likely to come as some relief to Hamilton.

While the Englishman departed Azerbaijan leading this year’s title race for the first time after halting a near 200-day losing streak, he did so fearing that he may not have the machinery at his disposal to overcome Vettel in their shootout for a fifth crown.

His mentality has altered little in the fortnight since.

“I have zero comfortability,” said Hamilton as he reflected on the slim championship margins.

“Since the last race I have not thought for one second that I am leading the world championship.

“It is not on my mind. It is not that it is not important to me, but it is just empty at the moment. There is a long, long way to go and it doesn’t mean anything. What is important is where you are at the end of the year.

“If we happen to get on top of the issues with the car and are more consistent then I can be a lot happier because I know then that I can punch above my weight.

“I have been punching below my weight, and that is not sufficient enough to win a world championship.”

On records alone Hamilton is F1’s one-lap master, but he has been out-qualified by team-mate Bottas at four of the last six rounds and has not been on pole position since the opening race in Australia.

Hamilton has secured three poles in Barcelona, in contrast to Vettel’s haul of zero, and has started on the front row in every edition of the Spanish race since 2012. It is a race he won last year, too.

Doubts continue to linger over Hamilton’s future. He insists he is committed to Mercedes but is yet to finalise a deal which both he and his team had expected to be concluded by March’s Melbourne curtain raiser.

Gang Gang Gang ??? #metgala2018 #tommyhilfiger

A post shared by Lewis Hamilton (@lewishamilton) on

“Going to the Met Gala has zero bearing on my future plans,” he replied.

“It’s just a privilege to meet people from different walks of life. For example I met Chadwick Boseman from the Black Panther film. I don’t talk about racing.

“I am seen as Lewis Hamilton the racing driver because that is the core of me, but I am hoping at some stage I will also be known as Lewis Hamilton, the racing driver and clothing designer.”

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