I'll do my homework on Rosberg: LewisComment on this story
London - Fresh from his drive to victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix - the so-called ‘Race of the Century’ - it is back to school for Lewis Hamilton.
The 2008 world champion is finding out as much data as possible on his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, who finished second, in an attempt to give him the edge in their embryonic but captivating duel for the world title.
Hamilton, thinking ahead to the next race in China on April 20, said: “Someone in the team did a huge study on my pace in Malaysia (the previous race, which he won comprehensively). As we arrived in Bahrain, Nico had this big document showing all the places where I was quick and he used that to his advantage.
“So now I’ll do the same and hopefully I can capitalise. I have to study hard and work hard over these next two weeks. I’m going to be giving it a lot of digestion.”
But will this approach work for Hamilton? A senior engineer who knows the driver well told me privately that Hamilton is at his best when he leaves engineering to the engineers.
He revealed that Hamilton gives excellent feedback - his feel is intuitive - but that he could overcomplicate matters when not simply answering the engineers’ questions and leaving them to find a solution.
Rosberg still leads the standings by 11 points having won the opening race in Australia and come second in the next two. Hamilton has had one non-finish and two first places. What will further spice the season up is that Mercedes will permit their drivers to race against each other, where sense allows.
Team orders - which are now allowed, alas - will not be deployed readily. Sunday was a case in point: the drivers were told to take care, but get on with it.
This freedom served up a brilliant contest over the last 10 laps, with Hamilton somehow defying Rosberg’s attempts to pass him on the supposedly fastest, softer tyre compound.
Paddy Lowe, Mercedes’ technical director, said: “Mercedes-Benz has a very long history in motorsport and I think this is just part of the philosophy that we want to let our drivers race.
“It’s the spirit of Formula One and motor racing generally. Team orders, putting in artificial constraints, are just terrible for the spectacle.
“So we believe that we should let the guys race, particularly in a situation where we have a pretty dominant car. It’s all the more important to keep providing that entertainment and excitement for all of us.”
The prospect is mouth-watering because internal team rivalries have served up Formula One’s most memorable seasons.
There has been Nigel Mansell v Nelson Piquet and Hamilton v Fernando Alonso.
But the most relevant parallel is the 1988 season, during the previous turbo era, when McLaren’s Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna won all but one race in a thrilling, ding-dong duel.