Hamilton: Ferrari "not extracting their full potential"
Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton believes the rival Ferrari team has not been "extracting their full potential" in the opening races of the 2019 season.
Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas outpaced the Maranello cars almost all weekend in China as Mercedes became the first team to start the year with three 1-2s since Williams in 1992.
The world champion stressed that while Charles Leclerc was the moral winner in Bahrain the race before, Mercedes had to be there to take advantage of his power unit problems.
“I think with what we have we are operating at its full potential,” he said. “But there will be more performance improvements to come in the future, we will make steps forward.
"I think in the last race [Bahrain], you can't say that was necessarily on full merit, because weren't quick enough to win the race really.
“But things happened along the way and you had to put yourself in position to get the win, so we did that. But I think particularly the first one [Australia] and particularly this one, full on merit.
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“I think the others, they've got a good car, the Ferraris, I think they're not extracting, [or it] doesn't look like they're extracting their full potential on the weekend, and then their execution doesn't always look as faultless as they have shown in the past.
“We know that we’ve got Ferrari knocking at our heels and we know that the Red Bulls are there or thereabouts somewhere but again, they’re not delivering as a whole, as we are as a team and that’s what it takes today, just overall maximum attack. It will be interesting to see how the next races go.”
Hamilton has insisted all year that Mercedes genuinely believed that Ferrari had the advantage after testing, and that the way the season-opening Australian Grand Prix panned out was a surprise.
“We definitely got through testing, we knew that it was very close, we got the car into a window but we knew that it was within a couple of tenths but we did think that they had the upper hand.
“I’m just not sure they’ve really hooked up a proper solid weekend just yet, but it was looking like it was going to be a solid weekend for them in Bahrain, and then it started to tail off. This weekend, they were a bit up and down throughout the weekend.
“I’m not really sure where they are losing out, but they’re gaining something like 0.4s on the straights, but losing out on corners, so it will be interesting to see how long they adopt that strategy in the coming races. But there are still so many races where their car will perhaps outshine ours.
“They’ve still got the shorter car than ours so it might work better in some other places that we’re going to but it’s a little bit early to say.
"But definitely three 1-2s, I think we’re over-delivering a little bit at the moment to our true, true potential, but there’s still more to come.”
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