Lewis Hamilton conceded Mercedes are “miles away” from Red Bull after an Austrian Grand Prix that seriously damaged his World Championship hopes.
The Briton lost another 14 points to winner Max Verstappen, who now has a lead of 32 in the quest for the Drivers’ title – a gap no longer bridgeable in just one race.
For the second week running at the Red Bull Ring, Verstappen led throughout from pole position and never had an anxious moment in a car that was comfortably the class of the field.
Unlike seven days earlier, Hamilton could not minimise his losses by finishing second. Instead, with damage to his W12, suspectedly as a result of running over the kerbs, he ended up fourth – behind his team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, and McLaren’s Lando Norris.
The main issue, however, for the seven-time World Champion is that Mercedes continue to lack pace compared to Red Bull in both qualifying and races – which is something Hamilton hopes can be addressed before the next event, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 18.
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Eventful race, Team 👊 Going home with solid points in the bag. #AustrianGP pic.twitter.com/0AfW0VbepR
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) July 4, 2021
“We’re miles away from them, so we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Hamilton told Sky F1 after the race. “We need all hands on deck, which I know there already are.
“They (Red Bull) have brought a lot of upgrades clearly over the past few races and we haven’t brought any. We’ve got to bring some and find as much performance as possible, otherwise this will be the result most often.
“I said before the race it would be very hard to beat Max, of course. But it was obviously disappointing to lose so much downforce on the rear of the car and not be able to hold on to second place. So a lot of points lost today.”
Although Hamilton had been told by his team over the radio that the damage had been caused by running over the kerbs, he appeared surprised that his car had been affected more than others.
“I wasn’t going over the kerb any more than anyone else,” insisted the 36-year-old, who signed a two-year contract extension with Mercedes this weekend.
“I have no idea where it happened but there was a lot of damage. I was in second when all of a sudden it obviously broke. It would have been an easy second generally, but obviously not able to catch those guys ahead.”
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