Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team will head to Monaco “bloody worried” that they could face a repeat of their horror show last year.
Hamilton turned on the style to crush his rivals by winning so impressively in Spain on Sunday and extend his championship lead to a healthy 17 points over Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton toasted his triumph with the former McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen, who finished sixth for Haas, into the early hours ahead of his return to the cockpit of his Mercedes on Tuesday for this week’s test at the Circuit de Catalunya.
The streets of Monte Carlo proved last year’s nadir for Hamilton after he qualified only 14th and took the chequered flag in a lowly seventh place on a weekend to forget for the Brit and Mercedes.
Hamilton, along with team-mate Valtteri Bottas who will drive for Mercedes on Wednesday, will this week rack up valuable mileage to gather as much information as possible ahead of the Monte Carlo race a week on Sunday.
“I’m bloody worried,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said. “We have seen there are tracks which suit us well and some that we are not perfect at.
“For whatever reason it is very difficult to undo the DNA of our car, and Monaco, as well as Hungary and Singapore, are tracks where we have under-performed at.
“As much as I am overwhelmed by the victory here, my mind is already on Monaco, and I remember it wasn’t a pleasant Sunday night last year.”
The slow-speed nature of the most famous race on the F1 calendar is one which played into Ferrari’s hands last term as Vettel led Kimi Raikkonen home in a one-two finish for the Italian team.
The street track is also likely to suit the Red Bull chassis, while the thinner tyre tread which undermined Vettel’s challenge in Spain, will be replaced by the rubber which his Ferrari mastered in the rounds before Barcelona.
“There are a lot of challenging races coming up and Monaco is a serious challenge,” Hamilton added. “Naturally, Toto’s job is to worry and his mind will already be on the next race.
“My job is not to worry so much but preparing by extracting as much as I can from my engineers; to make sure the debrief is good, to reconnect with them later in the week once they have downloaded everything, and see that we have followed through with all the things that I have asked them to do.
“We know that it is going to be a difficult weekend, but as we have seen this year, you can still take great points from races you do not win.”
Hamilton’s long-running contract saga could reach a conclusion in the coming weeks. Wolff revealed in Barcelona that discussions had been put on the back burner following Mercedes’ troubled start to the season.
Mercedes chairman Dieter Zetsche meanwhile, was among the bigwigs who watched Hamilton romp to glory from the team’s garage on Sunday.
“We had all the bosses here this week and there is not a single person in the hierarchy of the team who have any concerns (about me re-signing),” Hamilton added.
“We do talk about it and we are not far away from finishing things, so it will happen hopefully in the near future.”