“That’s my driving force this year. To make sure that we continue to push for accountability, and on top of that hopefully I can deliver good performances,” he said.
F1’s `We Race As One’ campaign was among the themes of 2020, he said, “But (more) action is needed this year. We’ve got to make sure that we continue to have that conversation.”
Hamilton said there were positive discussions between drivers at pre-season testing and F1’s president Stefano Domenicali, who “has taken the time to sit with us all and be open.”
On the track, preseason did not go well for Mercedes.
It gave rivals hope that a dominant series of seven straight drivers’ and constructors’ championships may at last be under genuine threat.
Red Bull star Max Verstappen picked up where he left off after winning last year’s final race in Abu Dhabi in style and appeared very confident in testing.
“I’d say Red Bull are ahead on performance. They are the class act. Are we going to have a close season? I would say so,” Mercedes strategy director James Vowles said. “Red Bull are a fierce adversary, they’ve got a strong package and clearly came out of the box very, very quick.”
Red Bull has a stronger lineup, too, with Sergio Perez replacing Alex Albon and bringing with him nearly 200 GPs and 10 podiums, including a second place in Turkey followed by a superb win at the Sakhir GP last year.
Hamilton is wary of Red Bull’s threat, saying “It’s going to be a long battle with them.”
Verstappen was Hamilton’s main threat on race days last season, despite having a slower car.
The early signs are that the 23-year-old Verstappen will add to his 10 GP wins.
“It has definitely been the best preseason. The car felt nice to drive, which I think is always very positive,” Verstappen said, referring to Red Bull’s reliability issues last year. “But it doesn’t give you any guarantees. We’ll find out through the first race weekend where we are.”
Valtteri Bottas finished 124 points behind fellow Mercedes driver Hamilton, compared with 87 the season before. The margin of defeat last season was even more emphatic considering there were four fewer races than in 2019.
The 31-year-old Finn also has a one-year deal.
It may prove to be his last chance to topple Hamilton, with Verstappen waiting in the wings for a possible future move to Mercedes.