Lewis Hamilton has revealed that his comfort in this year’s Mercedes Formula 1 car is being held back by a specific design element not suiting him.
The seven-time world champion has had a difficult start to the campaign, with Mercedes not delivering the step forward it hoped to be able to challenge Red Bull this year.
However, his situation has been further hampered by the fact that he does not appear as settled with the handling of the W14 as team-mate George Russell.
While he thinks his situation could be helped by the team bringing more downforce to its car, especially to make the rear more stable, Hamilton says there is something else inherent to the design that he is not happy with.
Speaking after finishing fifth in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, one place behind Russell, Hamilton said his situation was something he had not experienced before.
"We're a long way down on downforce," explained Hamilton. "So we've got to pick up the rear end downforce particularly.
"The more rear we gain, the more stable the rear becomes, and the more confident I'll be able to attack.
"But I think in general, just this car, even if we do change that, there's a specific thing with something on the car that I have never had before.
"It's a position I've not had in previous years' cars. For me, it's the thing that is making me uncomfortable. I've just got to work hard to make sure it is changed."
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted that the team was aware of the issue that Hamilton was struggling with, but said there was no swift fix for it.
"We have a fundamental issue he's not happy with, and that is linked to the way he feels the rear end of the car," explained Wolff, when asked by Motorsport.com about the problem.
"That's not something that can be cured quickly. The drivers are the most important sensors in the car and if they tell us that's what they feel, we need to consider that."
While Hamilton has not gone into details about what the problem is, the issue seems to manifest itself in making the car very uncomfortable for him when it is taken to the limit - especially in qualifying.
"It's on a massive knife edge when you're above about 95%," he said. "But when you're in a race stint, it's much more controllable and predictable.
"I still don't have the confidence in the race, but I'm doing the best I can with it."
While the start of the season has not been ideal for Hamilton, the team took some comfort in being able to beat Ferrari in Saudi Arabia last weekend.
Hamilton admitted he was surprised about that turn of events, although suspects the smooth track surface at Jeddah may have helped.
"It is definitely strange to see the Ferrari behind us, and it's positive for us," he said. "It's a different surface here, and we don't really understand why on this surface our car works one way, and it's different in another.
"But there's lots of positive to take from this weekend. It will be up and down throughout the first three races. Hopefully we can get some upgrades ASAP and try to close that gap to the Astons."