Hamilton: Time for Vettel to prove he can lead

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Lewis Hamilton has said that it is time for Sebastian Vettel to step up and prove himself to be a true team leader at Red Bull after the defending world champions’ poor start to the season.

Red Bull currently occupies second place in the constructors’ championship, some 97 points behind Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have made a scintillating start to the year, winning all four races and claiming three one-two finishes.

Having won the last four titles, Vettel’s hopes of making it five in a row already appear to be slim. However, Hamilton – who has won the past three races – has challenged Vettel to prove himself as a leader and rally the Red Bull team around him.

“Sebastian must now show his leadership, as the leader of the team,” the Briton explained to Bild. “When it comes to the crunch, you can transfer your strength as head of the team.”

Mercedes’ preparation for the 2014 season has given the team a clear lead over the rest of the field, whilst Red Bull has worked hard to recover after a disastrous pre-season. Hamilton still considers them to be title rivals, and is very wary of what Vettel and teammate Daniel Ricciardo could do.

“If I’m honest, I do not quite trust the situation at Red Bull,” he said. “Clearly they still seem to have problems with its engine, but regardless of the power unit, it is a strong car. I’m sure that they can catch up yet.”

Red Bull will be hoping to cut the gap at the next race, the Spanish Grand Prix, where all of the teams will be introducing their first major upgrade packages that should give the car better performance.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”