Sir Lewis Hamilton has revealed that racing in the midfield having become accustomed to winning is “still racing,” just not as he knows it.
The Briton has won four of the last five world championships and, between the start of the hybrid era in 2014 and the end of last year, the 37-year-old claimed 81 of his 103 career race victories.
Mercedes’ failure to adequately adapt to the new technical regulations has left them lagging behind Ferrari and Red Bull, and they have instead found themselves competing in the midfield battle.
Hamilton’s podium finish in Bahrain remains his best result of the season, and he crossed the finish line outside the top 10 for the first time since 2013 at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix a few weeks ago.
He has been out-performed in all of the last four races by team-mate George Russell, who spent three years racing further down the order with Williams before his arrival at Brackley, although part of that can be accredited to misfortune during Safety Car periods.
The change of scenery may have been somewhat of a culture shock to the seven-time champion, but he divulges that the actual racing is not so different to before.
“It’s still racing, just a different perspective, a different point of view,” he said, quoted by RacingNews365.com.
“You always want to generally try and go forwards, but I will say it’s quite difficult when you’re not really going forwards.
“It is what it is, but it’s an experience for sure.”
Red Bull adviser Dr Helmut Marko joked that Hamilton “should have stopped” last year after his onerous weekend in Bologna, while 1997 champion Jacques Villeneuve said the Briton is “not coping at all” with the changes caused by the ground effect aerodynamics.
Hamilton labelled such remarks “disrespectful,” but confirmed that they will only drive him forward.
“That’s a part of life, naturally I’ve seen some of the things [from] people I’ve grown up admiring and even people in the sport that have come out with certain comments, some disrespectful, some just not particularly respectful of my name.
“I think for me, I take that as fuel, I’m putting that into the pot and I’m turning that into a positive and I’m going to come back stronger.
“We are going to come back stronger as a team and four bad races or five, six, seven, 10 bad races is not going to stop being from doing what I love doing, it’s not going to stop me in my tracks.
“I’ve been racing 19 years and I’ve had way more difficult times than this and I’ve bounced back so it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get up and that for me is just highlighting to those people that nothing you say or do is going to stop me.”
The 37-year-old’s sixth-placed finish in Miami moved him back into the top six in the championship after Lando Norris’ crash with Pierre Gasly.