Hamilton intrigued by Ferrari driver dynamic

10/10/2019
NEWS STORY

Few (if any) believe that Valtteri Bottas was retained for 2020 by Mercedes for any reason other than the fact that the Finn is the perfect teammate for Lewis Hamilton.

While he takes the occasional porridge-fuelled pole or win, for the most part he is happy to work for the good of the team and his illustrious teammate.

Lewis Hamilton fully appreciates this, never missing an opportunity to praise the Finn, who is a lot more willing to play the team game that Esteban Ocon would have been.

Indeed, speaking at the start of the Suzuka weekend, Hamilton admitted that he feels the current shenanigans at Ferrari are working to the detriment of the Italian team.

"It's an interesting dynamic they have there," he told reporters, "because Seb was number one and is now clearly not. Based on the energy and the outlook, they are trying to ramp Charles up to be.

"Is that good for a team? I don't think so," he added, "but that's the philosophy they have had forever, but we don't complain because we have a philosophy that works really well here and we don't plan on changing anytime soon."

Asked about the start in Sochi, and the row that ensued, Hamilton said: "I think Charles said 'I'll let you take the tow' and then didn't move to defend, which he should have done.

"You don't give up the place and expect to get that back. I wouldn't give it back," he added.

"When we do that start, Valtteri's pole," he continued, referring to Sochi 2018, "instead of giving the tow to the third-placed guy he gives a tow to the second-placed guy and we work together in that scenario. He covered the inside, I got the tow, we locked out the front row and he kept the lead. So I understand that working.

"It's an assumption," he said of the shift in focus towards Leclerc at Maranello, and whether he sympathised with Vettel, "because we're looking it from the outside, so I don't know what's happening inside, I don't know what Seb's feeling, so it's difficult to say I can relate to it.

"Obviously when I was with Fernando, he was the hired number one, but then mid-season they gave us equal fuel and then you started seeing change. That dynamic shifted, and it obviously didn't go well for the team.

"But I do understand, because ultimately when you've arrived you want to have equal opportunity. But there are drivers that always wanted that number one status, it's easier for them. I like to earn that, but start on an equal platform.

"I think you can get that number one status weekend in, weekend out, rather than over the course of the season. But if you already know that you're number two, it's kind of defeatist, I think, your approach to the weekend."

Not keen to play the media game and dwell on the situation, Sebastian Vettel was giving little away.

"Charles is doing a very good job," he said, "but I think it's largely... and I genuinely believe it's first a race against yourself and then the others. In that regard, I struggled to extract what I know I have in me.

"On the other side, it also very quickly looks different on the outside than it does on the inside. There have been races where things didn't fall into place and therefore things didn't look great on the outside. But I think we were tackling the right things on the inside. So I'm not worried."

Check out our Thursday gallery from Suzuka, here.

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Published: 10/10/2019
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