Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas cautious over Mercedes' 2019 start
"The car is a little bit harder to work with this year," insists Hamilton, despite Mercedes' hat-trick of one-twos at the start of 2019
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 26/04/19 7:45am
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have played down Mercedes' undefeated start to F1 2019, with the drivers stressing their car is not yet the easiest to drive.
Mercedes have become the first team in nearly 30 years to start a season with three consecutive one-two race finishes, while chief rivals Ferrari have struggled and stumbled to get their world championship challenge up and running.
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However, although delighted with the way the team have executed the opening three weekends, Bottas says Mercedes will not be lulled into a false sense of security.
"We can't feel invincible. It's only three races of the season done," said Bottas, ahead of this weekend's Azerbaijan GP.
"All the wins and one-twos have not been easy. We have been performing on a very high level as a team in all the areas and that's why we've been able to achieve those results.
"But it's only three out of 21 and we need to keep pushing because everyone is very motivated to finish races ahead of us. We are not standing still and we don't feel we are unbeatable."
In fact, both Mercedes drivers say the W10 is not yet always the most straightforward of challengers to tame.
"So far the car is a little bit harder to work with this year," said Hamilton, the championship leader.
"It's definitely not easier."
Bottas added: "As we have seen in the past few years, our car is very quick but it's sometimes not so easy to get it completely right in terms of set-up. It's not always the easiest car to drive but once you get it right, whether it's me or Lewis, it's very quick."
Mercedes wary of Ferrari in Baku
Few pundits, let alone Mercedes themselves, would have predicted the world champions would open the season with a hat-trick of perfect results after Ferrari's strong winter testing form.
Hamilton, who has won two of the three races, admitted: "This is far better than we anticipated the start of the season and something that everyone has worked so hard for."
However, F1's arrival at the circuit which contains the fastest straight of the whole season in Baku is likely to present Mercedes with a fresh challenge.
"You're going to see this weekend Ferrari are probably going to be extremely quick since they've got an upgrade and this is a track that has boded well for them in the previous years.
"Red Bull go well here also and they've got a new power unit this year so I anticipate they're going to be even closer.
"It's just so early I can't really say. I know we're going to be there in the mix and we've just got to work towards being at the front of that mix."
And asked by Sky Sports News if he was confident they can battle with Ferrari, Bottas replied: "We definitely can.
"We have been strong in at least two out of three races this year in terms of pure performance, Ferrari was definitely ahead in Bahrain but now it's a completely different kind of circuit.
"We do have a strong package. We have our strengths, Ferrari have their strengths, and even Red Bull, but we're definitely in the fight. That's good to know."
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