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Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton lays down Verstappen challenge as Mercedes encouraged

The Spanish Grand Prix was Mercedes' best result of the season as they begin the process of trying to catch Red Bull.

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To news overview © XPBimages

Lewis Hamilton has challenged Mercedes to have the Formula 1 car to beat Max Verstappen "from day one" in 2024 after encouragement in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Mercedes finally ditched their zero sidepod concept in Monaco, with the following race in Barcelona the first opportunity to test the new package at a conventional circuit.

The upgraded W14 proved the closest challenger to Red Bull and Verstappen in the RB19, claiming a two-three finish to provide some encouragement to the eight-time champions.

But while Hamilton feels Verstappen is too far ahead to be caught in 2023, he has thrown down the gauntlet to his 2021 title rival for next year.

Hamilton's challenge to Mercedes

"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 [in the Spanish GP]," Hamilton told media, including RacingNews365.com.

"There’s a huge amount of work and studying and improvement that we hopefully will have coming in the future, and 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.

"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 [in Barcelona] – 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 could challenge them.

"I'm more focused on making sure next year we have the car to challenge them from day one. 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 also, that also sets us in the right direction.

"They’re so far ahead and ultimately Max will continue to win this year – but that means they can start on their development for next year sooner, earlier than anyone else if they haven’t already – and that's the danger."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Verstappen non-fussed

After recording a Grand Chelem in Barcelona to extend his championship points lead over Sergio Perez to 53 with his fifth win from seven races, Verstappen looks set to become a three-time World Champion.

But despite the renewed promise from Mercedes - the Red Bull driver wasn't bothered about what the Brackley-based squad do.

"They had a very strong race, to be honest. I think they are improving but, from our side, it’s not about being worried, we just have to focus on ourselves, trying to keep on improving the car," he said.

"At the moment it all looks great but you can't stand still in this world. We just keep trying to find things on the car, try to learn – like to understand why the Hard [tyre] wasn't working with the car.

"We’ll see what happens in the coming races. I don’t know if there are going to be tracks that are better or worse. We'll find out.

"It's great for the sport in general if you have more teams fighting up front. That's what they want to achieve so honestly that would be amazing, to have more drivers really up there, and hopefully throughout the year it will already get closer and maybe next year there are more teams really up there."

F1 2023 Spanish Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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