Lewis Hamilton relieved by win as Nico Rosberg seeks competition
Rosberg admits he would welcome a genuine fight from Ferrari in the wake of Mercedes' domination in season opener.
By Pete Gill and James Galloway in Melbourne
Last Updated: 15/03/15 11:45am
A victorious Lewis Hamilton has described his performance in the season-opening Australian GP as “reassuring” after a traumatic winter off the track after he split from long-time girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger.
There was no hint of Hamilton’s emotional upheaval as the world champion cruised to a faultless victory in Melbourne, crossing the line 1.3 seconds ahead of Nico Rosberg after a perfectly judged masterclass of frontrunning driving.
“I didn't need any more confidence but it was reassuring for my method of getting my head in the right place. I can’t tell you how difficult a year it has been to this point so to come here with a fresh mind and execute it like that, I’m really happy,” a relieved Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.
“It was a hard race. I wasn’t struggling for pace. If I needed it, l had it.”
Hamilton offered another intriguing insight into his mind-set when he bristled at the seemingly-innocent suggestion that he was determined to retain his title.
“I’m here to win. I’m not here to defend anything,” he responded. “I’ve got a great car and I just want to optimise that.”
‘Great’ it certainly is. With the Mercedes W06 in a superior class of its own, Hamilton only had Rosberg for company throughout the 58-lap race. To his credit, the German kept the world champion fully occupied before graciously Hamilton had “driven like a champion” in the wake of the Englishman’s seventh victory in the last eight races.
“Nico was very quick throughout the race, he drove really well,” said Hamilton in the post-race press conference.
“Lewis didn’t make any mistakes and it wasn’t possible to get any closer,” responded Rosberg in kind.
Quite how the long the spirit of reconciliation and mutual appreciation can be maintained within the Mercedes garage remains to be seen given the strong likelihood that Hamilton and Rosberg will, once again, have exclusive access to the title fight. Mercedes' superiority has reached such a magnitude that even their drivers are apparently tiring of their isolation.
"I hope we get a fight, that would be awesome,” said Rosberg. “I hope [Ferrari] can give us a challenge because that would be good for the sport. I do think about the show because I want to give people a great time watching on TV or at the track."
“Let your garage become open for the public in Malaysia," the third-placed Sebastian Vettel shot back.
But Mercedes' current domination is no laughing matter with Red Bull's unhappiness with engine suppliers Renault already boiling over, McLaren reduced to the rank of backmarkers, and Ferrari a distant speck on the horizon even after being promoted to the status of 'best of the rest'.
"They have a great package, it will be difficult to beat," conceded Vettel. "It's a big gap, 34 seconds down the road. It can turn around a little bit for the next race but it could also be worse. They are favourites, they had a huge advantage last year and they have done a good job to increase that advantage for this year. It will be difficult but not impossible for the rest of us to catch up."
The Midweek Report returns at 8.30pm on Sky Sports F1 on Wednesday with Mike Gascoyne and David Brabham joining Natalie Pinkham in the studio to analyse events in Melbourne.