Upgrades will help but Red Bull still ahead, says Hamilton

Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Valtteri Bottas of Finland at Silverstone on July 15, 2021 in Northampton, England
Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Valtteri Bottas of Finland at Silverstone on July 15, 2021 in Northampton, England
Image: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Mercedes should be closer to Formula One leaders Red Bull at this weekend's British Grand Prix but there will still be a performance gap, seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton said.

Hamilton is 32 points behind Red Bull's Dutch youngster Max Verstappen after nine races and ahead of a grand prix the Briton has won a record seven times.

Red Bull have won the last five races in a row, with Verstappen chasing his fourth successive victory, but Hamilton was hopeful car upgrades would give him more of a chance of fighting back.

"A lot of work's gone on over the last couple of weeks so I'm hoping that to come back to a circuit that suits us a little bit better hopefully bodes well for a closer battle," said Hamilton.

Mercedes have won seven of the last eight British Grands Prix and also taken nine consecutive pole positions at Silverstone.

"There's a lot of changes on the car but it's not a massive update in terms of the gap that we've seen in the races," Hamilton said.

Hamilton said Red Bull's advantage appeared to be two to three tenths of a second a lap and Mercedes had not brought that much of a performance improvement but were hopeful they had made a step in the right direction.

An additional challenge for this weekend is a new sprint qualifying on Saturday, with a maximum three points on offer for a 100km race that sets the grid for Sunday.

"We need to win both races," said Hamilton. "Again, that's going to be difficult. Do we have the single lap pace that they have? Unlikely but we could be surprised tomorrow.

"I'm trying to stay hopeful and positive."

Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas said he hoped to be competitive.

"I don't think we're going to be on pole by one second like last year but I hope we can fight for the pole," he said.

Meanwhile, Hamilton said he was inspired by the reaction of England soccer players to online abuse after their penalty shootout loss to Italy in the European championship final.

The Mercedes driver agreed with winger Jadon Sancho who posted on social media that the public response showed "hate will never win".

Substitutes Marcus Rashford, Sancho and Bukayo Saka all missed spot kicks with the three Black players later suffering racist abuse.

"Love conquers all," said Hamilton, Formula One's only Black driver.

"We do have a long way to go, we need to grow from these experiences but I was really, really proud of how the England squad performed and how they handled it as a team, all coming from different backgrounds.

"And particularly those individual players who were in the line of fire. How they handled it, hats off to them. Incredibly inspiring.

"So many people throughout the country have been massively supportive. We're a proud nation but it doesn't mean we can't continue to learn," he added.

- Reuters



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