A relieved Lewis Hamilton feels his nightmare starts are finally a thing of the past as he looks for a strong getaway from pole at the Mexican GP.
But the world champion wishes he had found a solution earlier in the season after losing so much ground to Nico Rosberg in the title race.
Hamilton’s pole position at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Saturday was his 10th of the campaign – two more than any other driver – but his season-long struggles to get to grips with the new-for-2016 clutch procedure has seen his pole-win conversion rate drop to just 44.4 per cent, lower than his career average.
After plenty of hard work at the factory, however, the Brit believes the fast Austin start that helped him cruise to victory proves he is on the right track, even if it is now too late.
Conclusions from qualifying
“I felt already last weekend that I felt a lot more confident in the whole process,” Hamilton, 26 points behind Mercedes team-mate Rosberg with three races remaining, said.
“I wish I had that in the beginning of the year, obviously then I’d be in a different position now.
Lewis Hamilton from pole in 2016
|Malaysia||Retired (engine failure)|
“It was just a process of us continuing to work. They’re still not bullet proof, we are working on them and we’ll continue to do so until the end of the year.”
Poor starts in Australia, Bahrain, Italy and Japan cost Hamilton potential race victories and he even admitted earlier this season that his mistakes could cost him the championship.
The 900-metre stretch to Turn One will be a good test of Hamilton’s credentials, with Rosberg just behind him while the supersoft-starting Red Bulls line up on the second row.
“At least we’ve got it right now and I feel confident for the race,” he added. “It’s obviously a long run down to Turn One so it will be even more important to get an even better start.
“Overtaking here is very tough, so position is everything. I don’t plan on being second.”
When is the Mexican GP on Sky F1?
For large periods of the Mexican GP weekend it looked like Hamilton would be joined on the front row by an outsider, rather than his team-mate and title rival. Hamilton himself told Sportsclubsociety that he was surprised Rosberg had recovered from fourth on his final flying lap.
The 31-year-old claimed the German copied his setup to improve his performance, later admitting this was common practice as Rosberg was a “little bit lost” with his balance.
It now leaves Rosberg, who knows three second-places would secure him a dream maiden title, in the perfect position to attack Hamilton and capitalise on any mistakes.
“Some weekends you find you get your way straight away and other weekends it takes a bit longer to get your rhythm,” he said. “This was one of those examples. It took all the way to qualifying.
“I should get a good tow here. I will go for the win and take the risks accordingly.”