Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton: “There’s too many dudes in the paddock!”

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Lewis Hamilton, 2017 Australian Grand Prix Press Conference. Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Speaking at the press conference ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was in a jovial mood as he shared an idea or two for Liberty Media over the future of the sport.

The four drivers were asked what their three wishes for the new owners of Formula 1 would be, to which Hamilton replied, “Miami race…. More ladies in the paddock? More paddock access to some women, there’s too many dudes in the paddock!

Hamilton returns to Albert Park as a two-time winner and five-time pole sitter, but this year the Brit will be joined by a new team-mate and new technical boss at Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Echoing previous statements, Hamilton spoke highly of Valtteri Bottas and the effort the Finn was demonstrating to fit in at the team as quickly as possible. He was also complementary of James Allison’s intellect and the exciting future that a mind such as his can forge.

I sat down with James and had a great conversation with him and he’s really blended well into the team and super-excited to work with him,” he said. “It’s always great to have great new creative minds and he’s one of the smartest people I have ever met, if not the smartest.

“I’m excited to see what he can bring out of me and the team and all the guys we’re working with.

“Valtteri has, as I said before, Valtteri has been gelling really well into the team, working really hard to be the best he can be, which is all I want.”

Once again, conversation returned to Scuderia Ferrari’s dominance during testing and their apparent restraint during running. Hamilton is certainly wary of the threat Ferrari pose, and commented that Sebastian Vettel appeared more reserved than usual, possibly keeping tight-lipped about his team’s chances.

Red Bull Racing has also piqued his interest. The Milton Keynes-based outfit failed to rival the pace of Mercedes or Ferrari at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, although testing programmes and fuel loads could have contributed to the deficit. However, Hamilton stated that he had failed to identify any notable upgrades at Barcelona, which may hint at a few new additions making an appearance this weekend.

I see Ferrari being the quickest at the moment and I think they will definitely be the favourites but we’ll find out more going into the weekend,” he said. “It’s interesting to see Sebastian’s usually a lot more hype and I can tell he’s trying to keep a lid on it.

“I’m very keen to see what Red Bull bring because they were quite far behind through testing, at least compared to Ferrari and didn’t see them bring many upgrades – or an upgrade as far as I could see,” he added. “So I’m assuming they’re bringing something here which I’m excited to see what they do bring.”

Mercedes has proven difficult to outperform during the last few years, having interpreted and implemented the regulation changes from three years ago the best. 2017 is welcoming a new breed of car that appears to have evened out the grid better than what has previously been seen, and Hamilton mentioned the possible benefits regular changes could achieve.

I can’t remember the last time we had three years and then a rule change – but I think they should probably shorten that, maybe, and do more changes,” he said. “Because there can often be dominance for a certain team and it’s hard to catch up.

“There’s a limit to how much development you can do through a year, and the top teams can generally develop at a similar pace. If you’ve got a gap already at the beginning it’s hard to squish that gap being that there are rules in terms of how much investment and time you can put into developing your cars.

“Doing drastic changes kind of spices it up. I’ve never seen the fans so excited about the season as they are this season, being how that it is we don’t know where the cars and the teams are. So, more of these kinds of experiences would, I think, be welcome.”

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