Poker face Hamilton turns up a winning hand at Mercedes as McLaren lag

By Chris Power


Cleve mover: Lewis Hamilton has every reason to feel pleased with his switch to the German team

Clever mover: Lewis Hamilton has every reason to feel pleased with his switch to the German team

Lewis Hamilton is refusing to get carried away with the promise shown by his new Mercedes team, even if the woes down the pit lane at his former outfit, McLaren, appear to have vindicated his decision to make the switch.

Fears that Hamilton had committed a major error by swapping McLaren for Mercedes already look unfounded, given the initial signs at the 2013 curtain-raiser in Australia.

Indeed, such has been the resurgence of Mercedes that it has been suggested Hamilton's continued dedication to playing down his chances has been nothing more than a bluff by the Monte Carlo resident.

'Well, I suck at poker, so I am not even trying to play the game,' said the 2008 world champion.

'I am not trying to have a poker face on. I hope it is better than we think it is. That's all I can really say.

'We have nothing to be disappointed about at the moment. We only have things to work on. We know that we might not be on the pace and we have to work on it. If we think we are on the pace and we realise we are not, then it's going to really suck.

'I really, honestly, don't know where I'm going to be. But I pray that it goes better than I imagine.'

McLaren are certainly in need of divine intervention and there was no kidology in Jenson Button's pre-season comments about the need to remain patient in the hope that more pace can be extracted from their radical 2013 challenger.

At least the torrential rain that forced the postponement of qualifying on Saturday masked what many believe to be the true picture in terms of McLaren's problems.

'It is serious because we are a front-running team,' conceded McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

'We hope and believe we have improved a bit, but we have been very frank about it. I don't think we've got the car where we want it to be.'

Rain pain: Hamilton and and Mercedes saw qualifying washed out

Rain pain: Hamilton and and Mercedes saw qualifying washed out

The McLaren scenario bears more than a passing resemblance to the situation Ferrari found themselves in this time last year, their car being almost two seconds off the pace.

But by the second race in Malaysia, Fernando Alonso was standing on the top step of the podium.

Subsequently, the Spaniard's consistency, coupled with the late-night shifts back in Maranello, meant he kept Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel honest all the way until the season finale in Brazil.

McLaren's Button and new boy Sergio Perez already look like needing a similar turnaround in fortunes if they are to keep within striking distance of Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus by the time they have figured out how to extract more pace from their car.

Slow progress: Jenson Button and McLaren have work to do

Slow progress: Jenson Button and McLaren have work to do

Button said: 'Fernando qualified one-and- a-half seconds off the pace here last year and almost won the championship, so it is possible for a front-running team to make up a deficit.'

It also remains to be seen whether Mercedes can sustain a serious challenge this year.

'I have no doubts that at some stage we are going to win the championship, I just have that feeling and that belief,' said Hamilton

Even a rubbish poker player knows a decent hand when he sees one.



The comments below have not been moderated.

Give LH a half decent car and wins a race. Give him an awful car and he can come on the podium (even after an own goal that is a 'bad pit stop'). JB will always have excuses; 'massive understeer guys', 'we just didnt have the pace', etc, etc. What a joker! To MW - whos on the back foot now?

Click to rate     Rating   27

I am so happy for Lewis. He was right to leave Mclaren and their golden boy Jensnake. First race for Mercedes and he scores 10 points haha. Cream always rises to the top. He is only going one way, and that's straight to the top.

Click to rate     Rating   61

McLarens true position was 10th or 11th. This car is not good. Whitmarsh and Button have said that they do not know when or if they can turn it around. There was even hints that they may revert back to last years car. Looks like another bad policy has been made to produce a new car especially when you consider they had the best car last year. Going from bad to worse.

Click to rate     Rating   42

I think this season will be an interesting one - but it looks as though the Red Bulls will still have an advantage. Hopefully we'll see different teams on the podium race to race.

Click to rate     Rating   48

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.