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Verstappen gives his take on Mercedes' struggles and Hamilton's position

Max Verstappen has offered his thoughts on Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes' early-season form after lapping the Briton last time out at Imola.

Max Verstappen says he took no enjoyment from lapping Lewis Hamilton during the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as he sympathised with his 2021 rival's struggles. The two drivers shared an epic scrap for the title last season, with the Dutchman edging out Hamilton by a narrow, controversial margin. But Verstappen's Red Bull car finds itself a world ahead of Hamilton's struggling Mercedes after the opening four races of the new season. So much so that the 24-year-old was able to lap Hamilton last time out, as the Briton struggled to pass midfield cars on his way to a 13th-placed finish.

Verstappen: Hamilton's in a car which is not so great

Verstappen has shown no signs of celebrating Mercedes' failures in 2022, claiming to take no pride in passing a car he described as being "not so great". "To be honest, it wasn't something I was enjoying at the time," Verstappen has admitted, speaking to The Telegraph . "I was just focused on my race, on getting through the traffic as cleanly as possible and winning. "I mean, it wasn't like, 'Oh, I'm lapping Lewis, what an amazing feeling'. I had great battles with Lewis last year, now he's in a car which is not so great. "Having said that, of course, George [Russell] does finish fourth in that car, so it is not all horrific, right?"

Verstappen shows sympathy for Hamilton's situation

But despite Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko suggesting that the lapping incident could have left Hamilton considering retirement , Verstappen admits he has sympathy for the 38-year-old. "George probably had a good start and a good clean first lap, and that helps," Verstappen said. "I'd say [Hamilton's] car had quite a bit more pace than the midfield traffic, but yeah, it was hard to pass. "I mean, also when there was only one dry line, and when you don't have, let's say, a top speed advantage anymore, it makes it a lot harder to judge how far Lewis was off George. "But clearly the whole weekend George was doing really well."

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