Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton not worried about start to season

Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton is second in the drivers' championship after three races
Azerbaijan Grand Prix on the BBC
Venue: Baku City Circuit Dates: 27-29 April
Coverage: Practice sessions and qualifying on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; race on BBC Radio 5 live. Live text commentary, leaderboard and imagery on BBC Sport website and app

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says he is not concerned by the fact that he has not won a race so far this season.

Hamilton trails Sebastian Vettel by nine points after three races, after two wins for the Ferrari driver and one for Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.

Hamilton said: "It's only been three races. We would like to have won races but it has been a learning process.

"We know it's a three-way battle. It is not going to be easy and it requires a lot of work to perform at our best."

Hamilton said he arrived at this weekend's Azerbaijan Grand Prix feeling "refreshed" after a break since the last race in China, during which he attended a music festival in California.

"I needed to switch off and spend some time with friends," he said. "I had a great weekend - a lot of travelling but that's what I do.

"I get back in the car feeling refreshed, feeling like it is not a new start but it is coming back and reset."

Hamilton, who finished fourth after an uncompetitive showing in China, said Mercedes' biggest problem this year has been understanding how to get the tyres to work at their optimum.

"It's a challenge we all relish and believe me when I say every single person in the team is hyped up," he said. "When we finish weekends and we have not delivered the way we feel we should, it is not a great feeling.

"This team does not take it as a negative, it takes it as an opportunity to grow and pull closer and extract more from ourselves.

"The Ferraris and Red Bulls were quick here last year and I anticipate it will be the same and we have no idea where we will be this weekend. We are still the same team and I believe we can battle it out with these guys.

"Now we have Red Bull close to their best and Ferrari at their best, if we are able to pull through and deliver as we have in previous years it would be the biggest achievement this team would have accomplished."

Hamilton also said that a delay in signing a new contract to take him beyond this season did not mean there was any risk of him moving on.

"I am fully committed to Mercedes and have every plan to be with the team for the future," he said.

"It is about getting on with it, we were going to do it after the last race but we had a lot on and then I was not really around.

"We will do it in the near future for sure. I have made it very clear and so have they that I want to continue. Neither of us have the personality of saying we are going to be with each other next year and then not. It is just about finalising it."

Ricciardo future in the air

Shanghai winner Ricciardo is one of three drivers who could be Hamilton's team-mate next year. Incumbent Valtteri Bottas is another possibility, as is Force India's Esteban Ocon.

Ricciardo said reports that he had some form of pre-contractual agreement with Ferrari were "not true".

He added that he had so far only discussed his future with Red Bull, who have said they want to keep him.

"I wouldn't just go somewhere else just for a change. If I did move on obviously I'd want to make sure it was something I feel would potentially be better," said Ricciardo.

He added that he would not go to a team if it meant he would be forced to be subservient to another driver - as Kimi Raikkonen is at Ferrari.

"What I'm chasing is to try and be world champion," he said. "That's my goal, my dream, something I really believe I'm capable of, so yeah, if someone said 'we'll let you come here but you can't do this', that's not an attractive option to me.

"At Red Bull there's always been really good clarity and fairness since I've been there. That's certainly been a nice environment and I would expect that environment everywhere."

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