Watch the season-opening Austrian GP on Sky F1 this weekend
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 02/07/20 8:26pm
Lewis Hamilton says he is determined to hit the ground running as Formula 1 2020 finally begins with the Austrian GP, with the six-time world champion braced for the “most challenging season we will ever face”.
Hamilton is on the verge of becoming the most successful F1 driver of all time – just seven wins, and one title, adrift of Michael Schumacher’s all-time records – but to do so will have to defeat his rivals during a season which will be far different to what was expected earlier this year.
As well as there being no fans in attendance, the almost four-month delay to the opener means the season is starting with an unprecedented schedule of eight races in 10 weeks, with more set to be confirmed.
Speaking to Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz about his approach to 2020, Hamilton admitted there was no room for error from him or his Mercedes team.
“If you look at previous seasons I think we have started the season perhaps not as strong as we have hoped and then we get stronger and stronger through the year,” said Hamilton. “We don’t have time for that this year, we have to hit the ground running.
“It will be a struggle. It’s going to be the most challenging season I think we have ever faced and will ever face.
“But that’s what we live for. We exist to be confronted with challenges and face it head on.”
Although the big delay means predicting a pecking order is tough before cars hit the track for the first time on Friday, Hamilton believes Red Bull, and Max Verstappen, could pose the biggest threat.
“They looked quite strong through testing,” he added. “Red Bull particularly seemed closest to us from our understanding.
“Max is progressing year on year so I’m anticipating they’re going to be strong competitors. They’re always very strong at this track so definitely going to be a challenge these two weekends. I’m excited to see how it goes.”
Mercedes have won the last six drivers’ and constructors’ titles, although Red Bull are chasing a hat-trick of Austrian GP victories.
Hamilton’s quest for F1’s records
|Most world titles|
|Most race wins|
|Most points finishes|
|Lewis Hamilton & Kimi Raikkonen||213|
Hamilton: Retirement might not be as bad as it seems!
While Hamilton insisted he was exited to get back in the Mercedes car to race – seven months after the last race of 2019 – he admitted the break gave him a pleasant taste of what his time after the sport would be like.
“It’s obviously an unusual circumstance to be back at work but I’m grateful businesses can resume and people can get back to their jobs,” said Hamilton, 35.
“I’m looking forward to getting back in the car, it’s been something that I’ve definitely missed. I would say I’ve enjoyed being away from racing though, this is the first time in my life that I’ve had this period of time.
“Retirement, almost, is not as bad as it seems! But I’m definitely happy to be back.”
The Formula 1 season begins on Friday on Sky Sports F1 with the Austrian GP. Sunday’s race starts at 2.10pm. Find out more & subscribe.