BARCELONA • Lewis Hamilton believes he is not in a position to fight competitively for the Formula One world championship despite holding a four-point lead over his key rival, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.
The Mercedes driver took the championship lead after he inherited a win at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix when his team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, went out with a puncture in the dying laps.
It was Hamilton's first victory of a season during which his team have struggled to optimise his car and tyre performance at every race except the season opener in Australia.
"I have zero comfortability. Since the last race, I have not thought for one second that I am leading the world championship," the four-time world champion said ahead of tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix.
"There is a long way to go. Imagine if I got excited now, knowing that we still have all the problems. It doesn't mean anything. What is important is where you are in the end.
"If this weekend, we happen to get on top of the issues we have with the car and start to be more consistent, then I will be a lot happier because I know then I can punch either at my weight or a little bit above.
SEEKING EXPERT ADVICE
I don't get why great golfers design golf courses but I don't think any of the top racing drivers have ever designed a race track. I saw the (projected Miami) layout and my reaction was, 'Meh.'
LEWIS HAMILTON, on why Liberty Media should have consulted drivers about the layout of next year's street race.
"But at the moment, I am punching below my weight and that is not sufficient to win a world championship. We have been capitalising on circumstances like the outcome of the last race (in Baku), so I will take it for now but in the long term, the team cannot rely on that."
The 33-year-old also criticised F1 management for failing to consider drivers' opinions in designing new race circuits after casting an expert eye over the proposed layout for a street race in Miami next year.
City of Miami commissioner Ken Russell posted a potential track layout on Twitter last week, with most of the course in the port area and featuring a loop around the downtown American Airlines Arena along Biscayne Bay.
Hamilton previously criticised the track - which was given official approval on Thursday - on social media and again expressed his disappointment in Barcelona.
"I don't get why great golfers design golf courses but I don't think any of the top racing drivers have ever designed a race track," he said.
"Miami is a super-cool place and I was very excited to hear about it, but then I saw the layout and my reaction was, 'Meh'.
"I know Miami quite well and there are some better locations to put the track. I dread the thought of a street circuit we had like Valencia, which wasn't great.
"If anyone wants to approach me or any other drivers, I am sure we can give some good insight into... how it could be better."
The City of Miami Commission and Miami-Dade County unanimously granted their preliminary approval for a proposal to authorise city manager Emilio Gonzalez to negotiate a contract with F1 management by July 1, which was welcomed by the sport.
"We are very pleased to have received preliminary approval towards bringing a Formula One Grand Prix to Miami," said Sean Bratches, Formula One's commercial managing director.
"Formula One in Miami represents a fantastic opportunity to bring the greatest racing spectacle on the planet to one of the world's most iconic cities, and we are delighted that the journey is under way."
Elsewhere, aerodynamic rule changes are expected to make F1 cars 11/2 seconds slower per lap next year, the sport's governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said on Thursday.
The FIA's head of technical matters for single-seater racing, Nikolas Tombazis, confirmed race performance would definitely be affected.
REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN
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