Tuesday 12 December 2017

Hamilton doing extra study in bid to catch Rosberg

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton (PA)
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton (PA)

Nigel Whittaker

World champion Lewis Hamilton has been left with "lots of homework to do" as he bids to end what is now a 200-day losing streak in tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg, who has sauntered to victory at each of the four races so far this season to establish a 43-point lead over Hamilton, was nearly three-quarters of a second faster than his Mercedes team-mate in practice yesterday.

Hamilton's best lap at the Circuit de Catalunya on the outskirts of Barcelona was only good enough for third with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen splitting the Mercedes pair. Sebastian Vettel, fastest in the opening session, was fourth-quickest in the sister Ferrari.

Rosberg is bidding to win an eighth consecutive race - a streak which stretches back to last season - and one which would see him become only the second driver to win as many grands prix in succession in the modern era. He is currently tied with Michael Schumacher, while Vettel holds the record with nine.

For Hamilton, who visited New York, Athens, Miami and Barbados in the aftermath of the last race in Russia, he is without a win since his dramatic triumph in October's United States Grand Prix - when he secured his third championship.

He is due some luck, with a number of mechanical problems so far derailing the defence of his title, but a scruffy lap here in practice was not the perfect start required to his weekend.

"I lost quite a lot of time with traffic at the end but ultimately the lap wasn't quick enough," said Hamilton. "It is very rare that you get a perfect balance but I definitely did not have that today. There were lots of problems, but we will work as hard as we can to fix them. It has given us lots of homework to do. There is a lot of pressure on the engineers to analyse what is going on with the car, and for me to do the background work and try and figure out what I can do to make it better."

Hamilton, whose previous two attempts at securing pole in China and Russia have been thwarted by engine problems, added: "Everything is working at the moment, but it always does through practice and then usually it is in qualifying where the problem happens, so we will see how it goes tomorrow."

The second practice session was suspended for nearly 10 minutes after Briton's Jolyon Palmer suffered a high-speed tyre blow-out.

The 25-year-old, who on Thursday insisted he will see out the season with Renault despite suggestions he could be replaced by Frenchman Esteban Ocon, was forced to stop on track - his stricken Renault taken back to the garage on a pick-up truck.

Elsewhere, Max Verstappen, making his debut for Red Bull after Daniil Kvyat was demoted to Toro Rosso, finished both practice sessions behind his new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

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