Is it going to be Hammertime again this season?
One of the big questions heading into the new Formula 1 season is whether Lewis Hamilton has his ‘mojo’ back, in other words: Is it Hammertime or not?.
After dominating his teammate last year and wrapping up the title with three races to spare, the Mercedes driver was then clearly outclassed by the sister Mercedes of Nico Rosberg in Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
And now in pre-season testing, some analysts believe Hamilton – who has had pet dog Roscoe in tow during the Barcelona test – is trailing Rosberg’s pace in the new 2016 car.
Asked by media if he has got his ‘feeling’ back for his F1 car, the Briton answered: “It’s hard to say. Generally I feel comfortable in the car. But we’ve rarely pushed really hard and haven’t used the softest tyres at all.
“Last year,” Hamilton paused before admitting, “I allowed myself a bit of fun at the end of the year. But I’m working hard with the engineers to feel as good as possible in the car. We’re on the right track,” he added.
Some, however, have noticed that while many of his rivals’ social media accounts have been full of tales of extreme dieting and hard training, Hamilton is apparently living a life of celebrity leisure.
“I took in everything I could” during the winter, he admitted “I was snowboarding in Colorado, in Mexico for my birthday, training in Toronto and LA, at the Super Bowl, at the Academy Awards. But I have trained better than ever.”
What there is little doubt about is that Mercedes’ pre-season preparations have been little short of perfect, even though the team is declaring that Ferrari is not far away.
“For me there is no doubt,” said boss Toto Wolff. “Ferrari has come closer. How close? We will find out in Australia.
“We are clearly not slow, but we don’t know what fuel the others have, what engine maps they are running. We will see in Melbourne whether we are good enough and if Ferrari is behind us or not,” he added.
Hamilton’s teammate Rosberg agrees: “Ferrari is very, very close. They show it every day in testing. It will be an exciting fight.”
However, not everybody is buying it. Former F1 team boss Eddie Jordan told Auto Bild Motorsport that anyone who believes Ferrari will regularly beat Mercedes this year is “dreaming”.
“Mercedes’ lead is immense,” Jordan, now an outspoken broadcaster, said. “I think they could have a cup of coffee during every pitstop and still win.
“They are now dominating F1 in every field including politics. They are the new superpower,” he added.
Jordan thinks Mercedes’ nearest challenger this year will be Sebastian Vettel, “but the question is not how close Ferrari will get to Mercedes.
“The question is how close can Mercedes let them get so that their dominance is not too obvious,” he said.