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Bemused Hamilton on Red Bull: I've never seen a car so fast

Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in Saudi Arabia, but feels Red Bull's RB19 is a class above even his fastest Mercedes cars.

Lewis Hamilton says he has "never seen a car so fast" after Max Verstappen's Red Bull Formula 1 car breezed past him in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Starting seventh and on the Hard tyres, Hamilton elected to go on a contra-strategy to most of the field, with Verstappen in 15th following his driveshaft failure in qualifying. By Lap 12, Verstappen roared past Hamilton on the pit straight, having carved chunks of time out of the Mercedes and then pulled away. At times, the RB19 – also driven by race-winner Sergio Perez – was lapping over one second clear of Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari, with the midfield runners nearly double that. And seven-time champion Hamilton was shocked at the speed of the car, believing not even his dominant Mercedes machines of 2014-2021 were so far ahead.

Hamilton's Red Bull claim

"I've definitely never seen a car so fast," explained Hamilton when asked by media, including RacingNews365.com , if it was concerning to see Red Bull so much quicker than anyone else. "When we were fast, we weren't that fast. That's the fastest car I've seen, especially compared to the rest. I don't know why or how but he [Verstappen] came past me with serious speed. "I didn't even bother to block because there was a massive speed difference. "I can't question [the legality of the Red Bull], they've done a better job."

Key area lacking

Hamilton would go on to finish the race in fifth place, behind teammate George Russell, who held a small but significant pace advantage over the elder Briton throughout the weekend. It was Hamilton's second consecutive P5 finish to start the season, and is the first time since 2009 that he has not recorded a podium finish in the opening two races of the campaign. The 103-time Grand Prix winner – whose last victory came in Saudi Arabia in 2021 – described the problems he is having with the W14, which are stemming from a lack of rear downforce. "We're a long way down on downforce, for one, so we've got to pick up the rear end. The more rear we gain, the more stable the rear becomes and I'll be more confident to attack," he explained. "But I think, in general, just this, even if we do change that, there's some specific thing in the car that I've never had, a position I've never had on previous year's cars. "For me, it is the thing making the uncomfortability, so I will work harder on this thing to make sure it is changed for next year."

RESULTS 2024 F1 Monaco Grand Prix - Free Practice 2