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‘It’s tough on the spirit’ – Hamilton brands 2024 the ‘worst start’ to an F1 season he's ever had

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 21: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes walks in the Paddock

Lewis Hamilton has admitted that the 2024 F1 season has been the “worst start” he has faced to a campaign throughout his extensive career in the sport, having retired from the Australian Grand Prix on Lap 17 with a mechanical issue.

Hamilton had endured a tough weekend at the Albert Park Circuit prior to the race, with the seven-time world champion admitting to feeling “flat” after being eliminated from Q2 of Saturday’s qualifying.

READ MORE: Hamilton brands Melbourne weekend ‘a real struggle’ even before Lap 17 retirement

He then was forced to pull off the track at Turn 10 during Sunday’s Grand Prix after reporting an “engine failure” over the radio 17 laps into the event, meaning that Mercedes left Melbourne with no points following George Russell’s crash in the final stages of the race.

Hamilton’s best result so far has been a P7 in Bahrain and, speaking after his retirement in Australia, the Briton was quizzed on the change in the situation, having gone from appearing optimistic after first driving the W15 to branding FP2 in Melbourne as “one of the worst sessions” he had experienced in some time.

“I mean this is the worst start to a season I’ve ever had,” he responded. When pushed on whether it had been even worse than the past two years, Hamilton added: “Oh yeah, for sure, and it’s worse than 2009 I think!”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG

Hamilton's race was over after 17 laps of the Australian Grand Prix, with the Mercedes driver reporting an engine failure

Reflecting on whether this year had been especially frustrating given his positivity after testing, Hamilton acknowledged that the situation had proved challenging both for himself and the whole Mercedes outfit.

“I think it’s tough on the spirit,” said the 39-year-old. “I think for everyone in the team, when so much work has gone on throughout the winter for everybody and you come in excited, motivated and driven, and then you’re with the mindset that you’re going to be fighting for wins, and then obviously that’s not the case.

READ MORE: Sainz storms to victory amid drama in Australia as Verstappen retires and Russell crashes out

“And then you either get maybe second or third, but that’s not the case and it cascades a bit further down and you just go through the motions.

“It’s challenging, but I continue to be inspired by the people I work with. They continue to put in the effort and show up, and that’s the most important thing.”

While disappointed by the outcome of his weekend in Australia, Hamilton said that he was maintaining a sense of gratitude.

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Hamilton admits it’s been ‘a real struggle this weekend’ after his DNF in Australia

“Surprisingly I feel pretty good,” he remarked. “[I have been] just trying to keep things in perspective. It could be so much worse. I’m really grateful to be here, I’ve really enjoyed my time here in Australia. I’m still enjoying working with the team.

“Of course I’d love to be fighting for wins and actually finishing races. It’s never a great feeling when you’ve come all this way and you don’t see even half of the race, but what I know is that we will bounce back. We will eventually get there, we just have to continue to chip away at it.”

EXPLAINED: He made no contact with Russell – so why did Alonso cop a 20-second penalty for his part in the crash?

Hamilton was also asked whether he had learned from experience of the importance of staying level-headed and keeping an eye on the bigger picture.

“Absolutely, I think that’s exactly it,” the Mercedes driver answered. “I think it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and be focused on this one thing, but the bigger picture is definitely the focus at the moment, and also just realising that you can’t control everything.

“You get frustrated because you don’t have control, if you can just let go and be in the moment and that’s really what I’m… It’s not great, I’m not happy, but I’m going to have a great day tomorrow and I’m going to train hard this week.”

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