Lewis Hamilton feels that Red Bull have a clear car advantage over Mercedes for the 2021 title run-in, describing their pace during the Mexican Grand Prix as "unbelievable".
Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid for Sunday's race, against the run of form after Red Bull dominated practice, but the tables were turned once more at the start as Max Verstappen cleared Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas into Turn 1.
From there, Verstappen stormed ahead and took the chequered flag more than 15 seconds clear of Hamilton, extending his lead in the World Championship standings to 19 points in the process.
"Half a second quicker"
Hamilton admits that he and Mercedes have their work cut out for the final four races of the season.
"With four races to go, [I] just have to keep pushing," Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.
"I mean, if they have this performance... I don't know where this performance has come from today, but they were half a second quicker than us per lap, which is what we saw earlier on the weekend.
"[I'll] just keep trying to squeeze everything out of this car. They clearly have the stronger car. I think all I can do is just try to make sure that we don't leave any stone unturned and we maximise what we have."
Hamilton added that second position in Mexico City was damage limitation as he simply had no answer to Verstappen's pace, but at least managed to keep the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez at bay in the closing stages.
"I started second and finished second, so I can't complain," added Hamilton, whose last victory came four races ago in Russia.
"I got a really good start and feel like I maximised what I had. But, jeez, their pace was just unbelievable today. There was nothing I could do to battle that."
Asked about Red Bull's sudden lack of pace in qualifying, Hamilton said: "They just made a mistake, because we didn't get any faster. I think they just messed it up with their tyres or something."
While Hamilton has lost further ground to Verstappen in the Drivers' Championship, Mercedes now sit just one point clear of Red Bull in the Constructors' standings.
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