BARCELONA, Spain -- Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes should not be blamed for the one-sided start to the 2019 Formula One season.
Hamilton helped Mercedes claim a fifth consecutive one-two finish at the Spanish Grand Prix, doing further damage to the idea Ferrari can make it a two-way fight. Ferrari's performances during preseason testing had suggested the Italian team would be competitive, but it has sputtered throughout the opening months and appears to have fallen behind Mercedes in the development race already.
Mercedes' start bucks the trend of recent years, during which Ferrari and Red Bull appeared to be closing the gap.
Number of one-two finishes achieved:
2019: 5 (after five races of 21)
Unless Ferrari can engineer a remarkable comeback, Mercedes looks set to claim a sixth straight constructors' championship, a run that stretches back to the introduction of V6 turbo engines in 2014. Such an achievement would match the record the Italian team set between 1999 and 2004.
Hamilton has consistently said throughout this period of Mercedes dominance that, although he's enjoyed the winning, he wants to see more competition from rivals. He continued that theme after claiming career victory number 76.
"Staying focused is pretty easy," he said. "It is not as much fun as when you are competing against another team. That is what F1 is about.
"When you arrive and you are competing against other teams who are bringing their A-game and you have another two drivers and that puts a spanner in the mix. When that is not there it is definitely a lot less exciting from a competition point of view, racing within a team... it is not how F1 should be, but it is what it is right now and it has been like that in the past, but it is not our fault these guys [working at Mercedes] are good at their jobs."
When asked if Mercedes can win all 21 races, he replied: "Who knows? We definitely did not expect to come in to the season winning the first five races, which is incredibly encouraging for everyone.
"Everyone is still pushing incredibly hard, which is still so great to see. It really is a phenomenal group of people. In the engineers' room, nobody is overconfident. We were just discussing improvements we could make and talking about how we could improve the car. They don't mind constructive criticism. They don't take it personally. I think this is the strongest team there is and has ever been and it would be hard to break that."
Team boss Toto Wolff understands why fans are concerned by Mercedes' start to the year but says his only focus is on maximizing results whenever possible.
"You're not the first one to ask me that question, but I'm in an awkward position... actually, I'm not in an awkward position. I'm in a pretty clear position, because we're really trying to perform as well as we can.
"We pushed the benchmark and we push the needle and we try to be better as a group every single day and every single year. This team coming together with the struggles that we had in the winter is just a super satisfaction for the team and the group and this is what my personal feeling is.
"Then on the other side, if I take myself out from my Mercedes standpoint and all of the group, of course as a fan you want variability and unpredictability. We all enjoyed Liverpool coming back as strong as they did [in the Champions League] and Spurs making it against all odds. I had the laptop on my knees watching the game when we saw Liverpool beating Barcelona.
"As a fan and as a spectator, I can relate to the sport needing to have a certain variability. But where we are, it can't be an objective for us. I also feel that it's bad karma if we were to really think that we are walking on water -- then next weekend you're going to get one in the face for sure."