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F1: Lewis Hamilton Hopeful Mercedes Will “Challenge” Red Bull

LAT Images/Mercedes-Benz Archives

Mercedes’ new concept has so far done what it said on the tin, giving Lewis Hamilton confidence that they will breach Red Bull’s advantage.

Seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton has a new sense of optimism about him following a strong Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton started the seventh race of the season in fourth and breezed through to second, with Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz. having had no answer. The Brit looked good at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, to the extent where he was the second quickest driver during the race.

The 38-year-old has been faster and happier since Mercedes introduced their eagerly awaited new concept, which so far has improved the Silver Arrows’ performance. Hamilton remained in second to claim his second runner-up finish of the season, matching his P2 from the Australian Grand Prix.

Red Bull Remain Superior

Despite his great pace, Hamilton still finished over 24 seconds behind Max Verstappen. Verstappen and Red Bull Racing have been an unstoppable force this season, with the Mercedes driver not expecting his side to really compete with them this campaign.

The hope is that they’ll challenge Red Bull in the latter stages of the season, something which could happen after the 103-time race winner teased that the Silver Arrows have “something in pipeline”.

Of course, Hamilton would love to be back amongst Verstappen and Red Bull; however, the Briton is remaining realistic for the time being, saying, as per the official F1 website:

“With the current car that we have, I don’t think we’ll be matching their performance, but we’re working on improving the car.”

“With the current package, we’re limited to the pace that we had today, but I think there’s a huge amount of work and studying and improvement that we hopefully will have coming in the future.”

“Naturally, they should also be progressing through the year, so we need to be taking big chunks out of them with every step we take. I think today they were a good few tenths ahead of us, maybe half a second ahead of us per lap, and on a single lap, that’s a little bit bigger.”

“But I think we’re going in the right direction and I know we have something in the pipeline moving forward, so I’m hoping that at least by the end of the year, maybe we can… It would be great if we could challenge them.”

Jiri Krenek/Mercedes-Benz Archive

Hamilton Targeting 2024 Title Challenge

As Verstappen leads the Drivers’ Championship by 53 points and Red Bull lead the Constructors’ by 135, Hamilton and Mercedes can effectively forget about a 2023 title challenge.

Following the introduction of the new concept though, focusing on 2024 and the W15 seems to be a better option, in a bid to catch the Austrians.

Forgetting about 2023 currently isn’t an option until they can comfortably secure second in the standings, given the financial reward that comes with it. The sooner Mercedes switch their focus to 2024 though, the better.

Hamilton is already “more focused” on 2024 than 2023, with the Stevenage-born driver being hungry for an eighth world title. The Mercedes driver wants to be fighting Verstappen and Red Bull from “day one” next year, something which’ll have to happen to claim that unprecedented number eight.

The veteran admits finding the “right balance” between prioritising 2024 over 2023 is a challenge, however, learning more about the W14 is pointing the side in the “right direction”, saying:

“I’m more focused on making sure next year we have the car to challenge them from day one, and the further we continue to push this car this year, the more that impacts next year also, in some ways.”

“The more we learn about this car, that also sets us in the right direction – it’s trying to find the right balance [between this season and the next].”

Featured Image Credit: LAT Images/Mercedes-Benz Archives

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