Mercedes bank on Lewis Hamilton’s sixth sense in record-seeking season | Giles Richards

British champion’s mental strength will again be a key asset in Mercedes’ bid for another drivers’ and constructors’ double, starting in Melbourne on Sunday

There are no illusions at Mercedes as to how tough a Formula One season lies ahead as the team principal, Toto Wolff, calmly sets out the scale of the challenge. They are attempting to become the first team to claim six consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ championship doubles. Ferrari would like nothing better than to deny them and in doing so end their title drought. As they begin what is likely to be a season-long struggle this weekend at the Australian Grand Prix, Wolff was, however, relaxed and assured of one vital facet. He has the man behind the wheel who will make the difference. He has Lewis Hamilton.

The British driver took his fifth title last year and only Michael Schumacher has more with seven, a once seemingly insurmountable tally that now looks to be achievable. Hamilton and Mercedes managed to secure both titles in 2018 despite a resurgent Ferrari. That the 34-year-old had it sewn up with two races to go reflected errors by the Scuderia and their driver Sebastian Vettel, but equally just how strong Hamilton and his team were in the second half of the season.

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