Hamilton gets backing ahead of Spain test

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Hamilton gets backing ahead of Spain test
Hamilton is determined to put the problem-hit start to the season behind him.

Published: Thu 12 May 2016, 8:29 PM

Last updated: Thu 12 May 2016, 10:32 PM

Lewis Hamilton will recover from his current second place in the championship and mount a strong challenge to win his fourth world title this year, starting with this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.
That is the view of both his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, who leads him by 34 points after four races, and their champion team who are determined to put Hamilton's problem-hit start to the season behind them.
"We feel badly for Lewis because we've let him down, in terms of his competition with Nico," said Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe. "But I am sure we will get though it and I think Lewis will get through it too. It's still very early in the season. In this business, we just take one race at a time and keep on doing our best, but we do feel it for Lewis...
"Funnily enough, in 2014, we didn't have many engine problems, but of those we did have, most seemed to land up with Lewis. Again this year, we've got eight engines and the problems are landing his way!"
The three-time champion is without a win this year and has suffered a string of disappointments with a series of engine problems and first lap incidents in races. He is without a victory since winning in the United States last year. In that time, Rosberg has been triumphant and has reeled off four straight wins this season to lift him clear at the top of the title race.
But even after seven wins in succession, the German has admitted to knowing that Hamilton's ferocious competitive spirit and raw speed is sure to return and make him a winner again.
"Lewis will bounce back, of that I am sure," said Rosberg. "All the other drivers who won the first four races - and went to take the title - did not have him as a team-mate.
 "I know what to expect. He doesn't have an issue with fighting back in his head. He has always shown that. There will be battles ahead and it is going to be tough."
Rosberg won last year's race at the Circuit de Catalunya from pole position as Hamilton did the season before, a sequence that is expected to continue for Mercedes on a track that tends to deliver somewhat soporific contests.
The teams know the circuit well from winter testing and there are few surprises other than updates that fail, or work well, as the European part of the 21-race season is launched in earnest.
For many, the chief topic of interest will be to see how Dutch teenager Max Verstappen copes with the pressure of expectation after his sudden promotion from Toro Rosso to replace Russian Daniil Kvyat in the senior Red Bull team.
Kvyat paid the price for his collisions with former Red Bull favourite and four-time world champion German Sebastian Vettel in China and Russia, incidents that incensed both Ferrari and Red Bull. A demotion to Toro Rosso followed.
Verstappen, 18, has the potential to follow in Vettel's tracks, but will first have to learn his way with a new team.
"To be honest, I don't think I have slept for three nights," he said on Dutch TV. "I have felt so motivated to go directly and spend time with the team.
"I know they are a top team and I have a better chance to reach the podium - and when I was there, I just couldn't stop working - lots of effort in the simulator and time with the mechanics.
Vestappen's switch to the Milton Keynes-based former champions signalled Red Bull's intent to fend off any approach from Ferrari whose president Sergio Marchionne has made clear he is expecting to see his teamstart winning again.
Vettel is already 67 points adrift of Rosberg after reliability problems and accidents in his opening four outings and Marchionne warned: "This Sunday will be an important day for us and I expect us to win shortly, soon, starting with the race in Spain. So far, we have been unlucky. It will change soon..." - AFP


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