Lewis Hamilton’s vow to ‘kill’
WHEN Lewis Hamilton is on the track he's there "to kill", and relishes having the chance to make his opponents hurt in defeat.
The Brit is seeking world championship number five this season but he'll face stiff opposition from Ferrari star Sebastian Vettel, who clashed with Mercedes' star driver several times in 2017.
But Hamilton isn't expecting the pair's rivalry to become psychological, insisting he only has one thing on his mind when he gets behind the wheel.
"I don't play psychological war. Never, ever, ever have," Hamilton said as he prepared for this weekend's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
"My psychological war is I arrive fit and ready and I'm there to kill, and others know I'm good at what I do.
"I don't think the best athletes want to put the others off so they perform worse. They want to perform at their best so they can prove they are better than them.
"Beating someone when they are weak doesn't mean you're the best. That sucks. If you ever believe you are the best because you beat someone when they are down, that's the worst.
"I want to beat these guys at their best, when they are physically in the best shape, because then it's going to hurt so much. And that's what I love."
While both Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas are confident that the W09 is an improvement on last season's title-winning car, the Englishman was fearful that another team had not just edged ahead of Ferrari as the team's closest rivals, but also in front of Mercedes themselves.
"Because we don't bring upgrades at the same time, I think Red Bull will bring something at the first race, which will be interesting to see." Hamilton said.
"I think Red Bull are the fastest at the moment, potentially."
It's a scenario Mercedes chief Toto Wolff is fully prepared for as he looks ahead to Melbourne and beyond, with Mercedes braced for another "proper battle" in 2018.
"Last year, the competition was very close and there was no moment where we could afford to relax," Hamilton said. "Ferrari put up a very tough fight and we had a proper battle between silver and red.
"This year promises to bring an exciting three-way fight between us, Ferrari and Red Bull.
"We will tackle this new season with the same dedication, team spirit and energy that has made us strong in the past. We start this long season on zero points like every one of our rivals. And we have to give it everything to be successful again this year."
"Now, it's time to find out what we've got: like the old saying goes, when the flag drops, the bulls*** stops."
Meanwhile, Hamilton has revealed he has never driven a "perfect lap" in Formula 1 - and nor would he want to.
The four-time world champion broke the all-time record for the most pole positions in F1 last season, a feat which would seemingly suggest he has regularly transcended the anticipated limits of his machinery.
But Hamilton is adamant he has never achieved perfection over any of the laps he has driven in Formula 1.
And perhaps more surprisingly, Hamilton is happy about that.
"I have never done the perfect lap, ever," he said. "The perfect lap? No, and that is what is so great about this sport: you never get perfect."
Not even once during his 72 pole positions? Or his 62 F1 race wins?
"You get close, maybe. But imagine if in those 30,000-odd laps, I did 1000 or 10,000 perfect laps. That would really be boring.
"If you played the perfect game time and time again, you would lose motivation because it is easy. You always have to move on to something more difficult. But there is no other class better than Formula 1 so if l was to perfect it, it would suck."
In an intriguing insight into his powers of self-motivation, Hamilton instead prefers to depict perfection in F1 as an impossibility, and an achievement he would shun even if he could attain it.
"The great thing is that the car is always evolving through the year, we add a couple of seconds in development through the year, there's different weather, different emotions, different weekends, good days, bad days, wrong side of the bed, right side of the bed," he said.
"All these different things are going on. So you will never do a lap that is perfect.
"There is not one corner you couldn't do better. You look at the data and think, 'If I had just braked a little bit later, l would have been ahead.'
"l strive to achieve the perfect lap and it's a great feeling when you get close. But then you get frustrated when you find out you could have been better."