Hamilton poised to fight back after double failure

Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone circuit ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix. In sweltering conditions, tyre management is crucial as he hunts for a fifth straight home win.
Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone circuit ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix. In sweltering conditions, tyre management is crucial as he hunts for a fifth straight home win.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SILVERSTONE • A battle-ready Lewis Hamilton has compared his and his Mercedes team's feelings to that of a boxer ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix.

"When you get knocked down, to the ground, you can either stay on the floor or get back up and fight even harder," he wrote on Instagram. "I am ready to fight."

His comments came after the debacle of Mercedes' double retirement at last weekend's Austrian Grand Prix, where they were previously unbeaten in four years.

Following the meltdown, the team have lost their near-metronomic consistency and forecasts of their continuing supremacy on tracks where they have always seemed invincible are no longer as trustworthy as they have been.

It is, however, too early to write Mercedes off.

Max Verstappen's victory in Austria, his first this year, rewarded Red Bull's opportunism, but his Milton Keynes-based team and Ferrari may face a struggle to match a resurgent Hamilton, reliability permitting, in front of his own fans.

The 33-year-old Englishman will be hunting a record fifth consecutive British triumph at Silverstone, and his sixth overall, on Sunday to regain the lead in the title race from fellow four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.

The German, who finished third in Spielberg, has a one-point advantage following Hamilton's first non-scoring finish in 34 races dating back to the 2016 Malaysian race, but expects a tough time on a circuit that should suit Mercedes.

Much, however, will depend on the extent of the damage inflicted on the champions' confidence after their worst result since re-entering F1 in 2010.

"We tried to show the right character in defeat," said team chief Toto Wolff. "We took full responsibility for our mistakes, which takes guts, and we will now analyse them and come back stronger from that learning. Both drivers were calm and showed true leadership.

"We have had the fastest and most reliable car in recent years and they reminded us of that fact. We come to Silverstone on the back of the worst weekend we've had in a very long time. We are determined to put up a hard fight on home turf and come back with a strong result."

In the current British heatwave conditions, tyre wear could be a major factor.

"These tyres are pretty sensitive to heat and that could be a really interesting variable that's thrown in," said Red Bull boss Christian Horner. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2018, with the headline 'Hamilton poised to fight back after double failure'. Print Edition | Subscribe