Mexico City - Lewis Hamilton has revealed he has been in touch with his absent regular race engineer Peter Bonnington during the opening days of the Mexican Grand Prix where he is bidding on Sunday to land his sixth drivers' world title.
The defending five-time champion, who needs to outscore his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas by 14 points to claim the championship, said he has been exchanging messages with 'Bono' who has been the engineer on all four of his previous titles with Mercedes
Bonnington remained in the United Kingdom to convalesce following surgery, his role taken by performance engineer Marcus Dudley while race support team leader Dom Riefstahl is acting as Hamilton's performance engineer.
"Bono's been with me for seven years," said Hamilton.
"It's the longest working relationship I've had with an engineer.
"So, it definitely feels weird coming to this weekend. We've experienced so much together and achieved so much together, but he's here with us in spirit and he's worked so hard last week along with Marcus, who has done a fantastic job this weekend, as has Dom.
"They've both really stepped up to the plate. It's quite nerve-wracking. Big shoes to fill, but the guys have really taken it in their stride.
"I've worked really closely with Bono and before qualifying I was texting Bono, just talking about set-up, so he's still within it."
Hamilton's radio conversations with Bonnington have been a recognisable regular feature of his racing in Formula One since the Briton moved to Mercedes.
Bonnington is also expected to miss the United States Grand Prix in Texas next weekend but Mercedes hope he will be able to return for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
"The pressure's immense for all of us and it's definitely not easy to be the person to have to speak to me also," said Hamilton.
"Bono manages it really well and for Marcus to jump in immediately - naturally, it's a pressure environment, but he seems to have taken it in his stride."