Lewis Hamilton is in “best place” he has been in since joining Mercedes four years ago, according to his team boss Toto Wolff.
Hamilton heads into this weekend’s Azerbaijan GP with a reduced 12-point championship deficit to Sebastian Vettel after clawing back 13 points on his Ferrari rival in a runaway win in Canada.
The Englishman’s Montreal victory came just two weeks after a difficult Monaco GP, when he finished seventh, and Wolff says he has been impressed with the way Hamilton is handling the see-sawing nature of the tight title duel between Mercedes and Ferrari.
“Lewis is in the best place I have seen him during any of the last five years since he joined the team,” said the Mercedes motorsport boss.
“Not only because he had a great weekend in Montreal – but because he is coping so well with the difficult days. This is what the very best are made of. When the fight gets tough, they get over it quickly and maximise their opportunities.”
that while he “would not have been very optimistic” this time last year about the prospect of Hamilton staying with Mercedes into the long term beyond his current contract, “now it is different” and “there is such a solid basis that I can imagine it going on forever”.
After spending four increasingly fractious years alongside Nico Rosberg, Hamilton said earlier this season that the arrival of Valtteri Bottas had resulted in a “better working relationship” than with any of his past F1 team-mates.
Wolff says Bottas has “exceeded even our expectations” and the Finn’s target now is “putting it all together every single weekend”.
On the back of their first one-two race finish of the season in Montreal, Wolff says Mercedes aim to keep that momentum on the streets of Baku, a race Rosberg won by nearly 20 seconds last year.
Although Ferrari’s SF70-H has proved more consistent in the season’s opening seven rounds, Mercedes still lead the Constructors’ Championship and Wolff believes “our car is the fastest on the grid”.
“In terms of the car, we’ve joked about it being a bit of a diva,” he said. “But it’s a good car – though sometimes it can be difficult.
“This is something we have to accept so that we can understand and appreciate the many positive characteristics that it has. I believe our car is the fastest on the grid and I wouldn’t want any other.
“In this season, where it’s so close, you need to take it one race at a time and try to have the best package at each race – chassis, power unit, and drivers. This is how we are approaching it and that’s the only way.”
Don’t miss the Azerbaijan GP live on Sky Sports F1 on Sunday – lights out for the race is at 2pm.