Lewis Hamilton was amazed by the pace advantage demonstrated by Red Bull at the French GP, after finishing second behind Max Verstappen. Starting from fourth on the grid, the Mercedes driver managed to jump ahead of Red Bull's Sergio Perez at the start, before profiting from Charles Leclerc's crash to take second. The gap between himself and Verstappen closed under the safety car, but as the race resumed it became clear that Hamilton would not have the pace to challenge the Red Bull driver for the lead. Speaking after the race, Hamilton was surprised by the top speeds of the Red Bull down the main straights, and called on Mercedes to work to achieve similar performance. "I was trying to keep up with Max, but he's just so fast," Hamilton told media, including RacingNews365.com . "I was kind of keeping with him for maybe two laps, but I'm full blast down the straight and he's pulling away. "I think today was one of the biggest straight line deficits we've had. If you're losing three or four tenths on the straights, there's nothing you can do about that. "So we've got to work to improve that for the future. I'm sure there's a couple other places that we could be better. "If I had pushed them more, then maybe I wouldn't have seen the end of the race in the same position. I had to also keep the car one piece and keep the tyres there, so this is the best result we could get."
Hamilton buoyed by race pace improvements
Mercedes have frequently been the third-fastest team this season and their consistent points-scoring has put them only 44 points behind Ferrari in the Constructors' Championship. Generally the Brackley-based team have profited from the misfortunes of Red Bull and Ferrari, but they have occasionally challenged both teams in race trim. Hamilton had been competing for the victory at Silverstone, with additional strong Mercedes displays coming at the Spanish and French GPs. The seven-time champion added that whilst one-lap pace is still missing from the Mercedes, he was pleased to finish just ten seconds behind Verstappen in Paul Ricard. "This is progress, even though we're not necessarily closing the gap as such in actual qualifying performance, but this is great points for us," added Hamilton. "We've just got to keep pushing every weekend, and we're hoping that we're going to get a little bit closer. "This weekend we somehow weren't as close as we hoped, but he [Verstappen] was only 10 seconds up the road, so that's a positive."