The Silver Arrows have failed to win in the first half of an F1 season for the first time since 2011 as the team fights to get back into competition with Red Bull and Ferrari at the top of the constructors’ standings.
Hamilton and George Russell have consistently found themselves on the podium in recent times but the gap to the top two teams remains sizeable, particularly in qualifying.
The season reflects Hamilton’s troublesome 2009 campaign at McLaren, with the Woking-based team struggling during a rule change after a closely-fought championship battle the year before.
Addressing the 2009 season, Hamilton said: “I remember arriving in February or January I think it was, coming back from winter training and I remember walking along or being in a meeting with the guys and they’re like, yeah we’ve already hit pretty hard our downforce target.
“And I remember back then they said that from their interpretation, it was 50% less downforce than the previous year. And they’re like, yeah, we’ve already hit targets and I remember being wow, really? That means you’ve probably not set it high enough and I remember getting in the car in Portimão I think it was and it was horrendous to drive.
“It was the worst car that I had driven apart from the engine was good, but I was three wheeling everywhere, the wheel was coming up massively.
“So I remember the struggles of that year, qualifying 15th or whatever it was in the first race and then just continuously chipping away.”
On the improvements made during the season to help get back to winning ways that year, Hamilton added: “I remember getting a big upgrade at Nürburgring and the radio… they only had one kit and because I was ahead on points, I think it was, I got the upgrade and I remember going through Turn 6 and 7, it was the first time we could take it flat.
“And I remember I accidentally had the radio on and I made this whoo-hoo kind of noise and they played it back to the guys back in the factory and then we got our first win in Budapest.”
Mercedes “pedal to the metal”
Now seven-time champion Hamilton is playing a vital part of Mercedes’ fightback alongside team-mate Russell, with the team constantly experimenting with set-ups and upgrades to claw its way back to the top.
“This year, at the start a season, very, very similar [to 2009] when we were in February sitting down in the room, it looks like a glorious… the set-up… we’d got a lot of performance on the car, a lot of confidence, like, yeah, the car’s going to be good,” explained Hamilton.
“Then you get in the thing and it was bouncing and it’s taken us a long time to fix that, taken a lot of performance off that car to enable it to stop bouncing.
“But I would say this experience is just an… it’s impressive to see a group of people just continuously not giving up, what you see within these teams.
“I think we haven’t made that big step that we made in 2009 to enable us perhaps to win in Budapest but who knows?
“We’re not giving up, we’re staying pedal to the metal. It’s a hot race there. Maybe our car will be good, maybe we can be closer to these guys.
“I hope so, so much, because I love that track. So I hope the car feels good there.”