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Lewis Hamilton will be comforted by Ferrari form after Mercedes' poor start to season, says Karun Chandhok

Lewis Hamilton has scored just eight points in the first three races of the F1 season; Ferrari, who Hamilton will leave Mercedes to join next season, punctuated a strong start to 2024 with victory in Australia; watch the Japanese GP live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend

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Lewis Hamilton reports an engine failure and retires from a chaotic Australian Grand Prix!

Lewis Hamilton will be comforted by Ferrari's strong form amid his and Mercedes' disappointing start to the 2024 Formula 1 season, according to Sky Sports F1's Karun Chandhok. 

Hamilton stunned the sporting world by agreeing a 2025 switch to the Italian team ahead of the start of this season, with the seven-time world champion calling time on a 12-year stint at Mercedes.

The early signs are that, from a competitive standpoint, Hamilton's decision may prove to be a smart one, with Ferrari comprehensively outperforming Mercedes over the first three races.

"It's natural that Lewis will feel comforted," Chandhok said.

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Hamilton says the gap from Mercedes to Red Bull is the same as last year after he retired from the Australian Grand Prix following an engine failure

"He knows he's probably not going to win the world championship this year unless there is a miraculous turnaround, so he might as well look to the future.

"And at the moment, the Ferrari is a better package than the Mercedes."

Was Hamilton expecting Mercedes struggles?

Hamilton finished seventh and ninth respectively at the opening two races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, before retiring from the Australian Grand Prix with an engine failure having only qualified 11th.

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Meanwhile, Ferrari picked up podium finishes behind Red Bull one-twos at the opening two races, before Carlos Sainz took advantage of Max Verstappen's retirement to lead the Italian team to a one-two of their own from Charles Leclerc in Melbourne.

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Karun Chandhok says Hamilton can't predict what is going to happen with his Mercedes at the moment which is costing him time on the track

The wisdom of Hamilton's last switch, from McLaren to Mercedes in 2013, was questioned at the time but it proved a masterstroke as he went on to win six drivers' titles in seven seasons from 2014 to 2020.

While Hamilton has insisted the key motivation for his move to Ferrari is fulfilling a "childhood dream", Chandhok believes the decision will have also been impacted by where the Brit believes his best chance of sealing a record eighth title will come.

"The timing of his decision, it couldn't have been out of nothing," Chandhok said.

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Carlos Sainz and Frederic Vasseur celebrate Ferrari's huge victory in Australia!

"The timing suggests he had some inkling that it wasn't going to be great, so I might as well take the chance to try something new.

"If he thought Mercedes were going to give him a car that would win him the championship this year and in 2025, I don't think he would have left.

"We all know what happened with Max's retirement, but I imagine Lewis took a little bit of satisfaction at seeing the Ferrari one-two."

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Highlights of the Australian GP from Albert Park, Melbourne

Why is Russell outperforming Hamilton?

While Mercedes have failed to provide Hamilton with a competitive car, the 39-year-old has also appeared to fail to get the most out it, with team-mate George Russell outperforming him.

Russell has established a 3-0 qualifying head-to-head advantage over Hamilton to start the season, and finished ahead at the first two races before also retiring in Australia.

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Carlos Sainz produces an incredible performance to win the Australian Grand Prix for a Ferrari 1-2, while George Russell crashes out on the final lap for a Mercedes double DNF

"I don't think even Mercedes or Lewis will have a clear answer for why it's happening," Chandhok said.

"So far, Lewis just doesn't look like he's found a happy balance with the car.

"I don't think he's been happy with the car at any point this season."

Sky Sports F1's live Japanese GP schedule

The fourth round of the 2024 F1 season takes place next Sunday at Suzuka with lights out at 6am on Sky Sports F1

Thursday April 4
5am: Drivers' press conference

Friday April 5
3am: Japanese GP Practice One (session starts at 3.30am)*
6.45am: Japanese GP Practice Two (session starts at 7am)*

8.30am: The F1 Show*
10am: Japanese GP Practice One replay
11.30am: Japanese GP Practice Two replay

Saturday April 6
3.15am: Japanese GP Practice Three (session starts at 3.30am)*
6am: Japanese GP Qualifying build-up*
7am: Japanese GP Qualifying*
9am: Ted's Qualifying Notebook*
10am: Japanese GP Qualifying replay

Sunday April 7
5am: Grand Prix Sunday Japanese GP build-up*
8am: Chequered Flag: Japanese GP reaction*
9am: Ted's Notebook*
9.30am: Japanese Grand Prix replay
12pm: Japanese Grand Prix highlights

*also live on Sky Sports Main Event

Formula 1's biggest ever season continues with the Japanese Grand Prix, live on Sky Sports F1 from April 5-7. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership - No contract, cancel anytime

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