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Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton sets Verstappen target: 'I believe we can close the gap'

The seven-time World Champion was present at the FIA Prize Giving Gala in Baku, Azerbaijan.

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Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes can close the gap to Red Bull and Max Verstappen, after they were formally crowned World Champions at the FIA Prize Giving Gala in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The seven-time World Champion was present at the event for the first time since 2020, as F1 regulations state that the top three in the Drivers' Championship must attend.

Accepting his trophy for third place, Hamilton paid tribute to his team and set his sights on Red Bull for 2024: "For everyone it's been a very, very long season and very much looking forward to the winter break.

"We're working very, very hard on making sure we come back strong next year, I have to say a big congratulations to Red Bull and to Max and Checo, they've done an incredible job this year.

"Max and all of his team really raised the bar and we have a lot of work to close that gap, but I truly do believe that we can close that gap."

Hamilton skipped the event last time he was supposed to attend in 2021, after the controversial finish to that year's title fight.

He was later ordered to pay a fine of $50,000 which went to supporting a student from a disadvantaged background in achieving an educational qualification in motorsport.

Hamilton noted how it was "not fun" to drive his Mercedes, having failed to achieve a race win for two seasons in a row.

Despite the lack of success, he still committed his future until the end of 2025 with the team and has faith they can get back to winning ways.

"Thank you also to my team, because they never gave up this year. We started off with a sister basically of previous years' car which was not good and not fun to drive for most of the year," said Hamilton.

"But no one gave up, everyone continued to show up every day and that was what was most inspiring and so I hope that we comeback next year."

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