Hamilton determined not to waste Mercedes advantage
Lewis Hamilton insists he is determined not to let Mercedes' early dominance slip through his fingers in Sepang as he looks to avoid a repeat performance of the Australian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes drivers experienced contrasting fortunes in Melbourne, with Hamilton wondering what might have been after an engine failure while team-mate Nico Rosberg cruised to a simple victory. Hamilton is under no illusions that the rest of the pack are starting to make inroads on Mercedes and knows the team needs to make the most of their advantage again in Malaysia.
"Absolutely," Hamilton said, when asked by ESPN if it was crucial to capitalise on Mercedes' early form. "Everyone else is pushing massively hard to catch us up and we definitely cannot sit back and relax. We have to keep pushing and keep trying to develop the car as we do every year, and I'm sure that's what we will do. I'm sure the Renault's and Ferrari's will pick up their pace throughout the year so we need to make sure we capitalise as much as we can. I was trying to do that in the last race, but I will try and do it moving forward. I don't know what the advantage was exactly but I know [Rosberg] had a 20 second lead, which is pretty impressive. But last year we saw Sebastian win here and he was 20 seconds down in Melbourne."
Despite already finding himself 25 points behind Rosberg some bookmakers still have Hamilton as title favourite, and he insists he relishes the challenge of overhauling a deficit.
"It depends how you look at it. Me, I quite like to chase, so it could have done me a favour. It's good to know they haven't counted me out yet. There's 18 races left. I don't think they normally change things after one race. In previous years when you lost a few places in the race, and lost three, four, or five points, you were worried. When you lose 25, that's a serious deficit. In one race you can gain quite a large amount. I hope for our team we have no more DNF's and I'll have to work hard to catch up."
Though he admits the team is aware of the progress being made by others, Hamilton also has full confidence in Mercedes to replicate their impressive rate of development last year to stay ahead of the curve.
"Development throughout the year is a huge thing at Mercedes. When I was at McLaren we had a great record. We generally started behind in the season, it was not very often we had the best car, but the team was very good at catching up during the year. Teams down the grid struggled to have that same momentum. The positive thing was when I spoke to Ross [Brawn] before I signed here I knew the team was growing to be able to do that. Last year was a great showing of that and I think this year will be even stronger, and I think we will have a better record of development than others do this year."