Lewis Hamilton 'hopeful' Mercedes will soon return to winning ways - just not in Austria

After a grim first half of the year, the seven-time world champion arrives in Spielberg for Sunday's race confident his car is finally showing its potential

British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes arrives to the race track on the media day of the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. EPA
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Lewis Hamilton has faith he will win a race in his troublesome Mercedes this season — just not at this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix.

After a grim first half of the year, the seven-time world champion arrives in Spielberg for Sunday's race confident his car is finally showing its potential.

Last weekend's British Grand Prix extended his winless run to 11 races, the longest in his standout career that has seen him top the podium on 103 occasions.

But third-placed Hamilton was almost as happy as if he, and not Carlos Sainz, had taken the chequered flag after his Mercedes at last battled shoulder to shoulder with the Red Bulls and Ferraris.

This was a massive improvement on the under-performing machine shackled by bouncing, or porpoising, as Mercedes grappled with the radical new design regulations brought in this term to produce closer racing.

The problem grew so bad in Azerbaijan, that Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff apologised to Hamilton over the team radio as arguably the best driver ever to grace the sport had to be helped out of the car his back was so shaken up by the bouncing over Baku's streets.

"You're just praying for it to end," said Hamilton at the time.

Azerbaijan Grand Prix - in pictures

With updates before Barcelona and Silverstone working their magic, the second half of the season is looking a lot more enticing.

"Yes, there was a long way back. Earlier this year, I definitely wasn't sure we would ever get a win in this car," Hamilton told a press conference on Thursday.

"Obviously that's not the way we like to think, but there was a feeling that 'Jesus, there's a long, long way we have to catch everyone', knowing the progress that everyone makes."

The last two races have given cause for the hope that "we're moving in the right direction," he added.

"With a little bit more digging and a little bit more hard work, hopefully we can get a bit closer to having a chance at winning a race.

"So I truly believe we can get a race win this year."

It would be quite a time to get off the mark for the season at the 11th attempt at the circuit owned by world champion Max Verstappen's Red Bull team.

But as pleasing as that would be, Hamilton acknowledges the chocolate-box venue in the Styrian mountains has rarely been a happy hunting ground.

"I think we've always struggled in Austria, so it's going to be hard to win here, I think, knowing the combination of the corners - but not impossible."

F1 drivers' standings

Updated: July 08, 2022, 4:28 AM
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