Hamilton: 'Complex' tyres making the Mercedes 'harder to work with'

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Lewis Hamilton has explained why "complex" tyre issues have made this year's Mercedes "harder to work with".

The world champion has enjoyed a near-perfect start to 2019 with two wins and a second in the first three races, leaving him top of the Drivers' standings by six points.

However, in the past two races in particular, the Briton has struggled for outright pace before a combination of luck and an ability to unlock performance have brought him back into contention.

"So far the car’s a little bit harder to work with this year - definitely not easier,” Hamilton explained on Thursday.

“It’s a combination of things. Every year you’ve got tyre issues, which seems a little bit more complex than last year, but at the beginning of every season, we always struggle.

“Everyone is trying to understand the different tyre windows - the windows of these tyres are even more narrow than it has been in the past, which was pretty small before and it’s even smaller now."

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Mercedes are far from alone in highlighting the influence of this year's Pirelli rubber, which has seen the number of compounds drop from seven last year to five for 2019.

Hamilton also noted the challenge Mercedes face in trying to ensure a competitive package throughout the year.

“They built a car to work on 21 tracks, or to make it work on as many circuits, so trying to find the balance is very, very difficult because it’s never the perfect balance," he said.

“Each one is kind of an average balance that might work everywhere, but when the tyres then come into it, then also the engine, it gets harder and harder.

“But as we get through the season we’ll learn more and more and I think we’ve definitely lucked out at least in one race win, you know which is in Bahrain, but we were pretty good in the race at least.

"Then the last race obviously was spectacular for us.”

This weekend though sees a whole new challenge altogether for this season on the streets of Baku, with low downforce package needed for the long straights but enough mechanical grip for the corners.

“This weekend, Ferrari should be really quick,” he admitted.

“They’ve got an upgrade, [the track has] worked well for them in previous years. Red Bull, with a new power unit, should be even closer.

“I know we’ll be in the mix and we’ll really work towards being at the front of that mix.”