Lewis Hamilton has vowed to recharge and “come back stronger” for Sunday’s British GP after being defeated by Max Verstappen in the F1 Sprint, but admits Red Bull’s young championship leader will be difficult to contend with if he gets another storming start.
Verstappen will start on pole at Hamilton’s home turf of Silverstone for the first time in his F1 career on Sunday after mastering the all-new grid-setting 17-lap Sprint, which was ultimately decided in the opening seconds.
- British GP on Sky F1: Sunday’s race at 3pm – full schedule
- Max Verstappen overtakes Lewis Hamilton to win F1 Sprint
The Dutchman, now 33 points clear of Hamilton in the standings, surged past the seven-time F1 champion and seven-time Silverstone winner ahead of the first corner on his way to another morale-boosting victory.
But Hamilton, praising the “magnificent” capacity crowd – with 140,000 fans expected on Sunday – is desperate to bounce back in the showpiece British GP, which is three times the length of Saturday’s debut Sprint.
“Naturally it hasn’t been the best day for us but we’ve been giving it absolutely everything,” said Hamilton, who was fastest ahead of Verstappen in Friday’s qualifying as Mercedes hit back at Red Bull.
“Tomorrow’s going to be tough but just the support of the fans, even the parade lap, the roar of the crowd is just magnificent.
“I’ll recharge tonight, come back stronger tomorrow.
“There’s definitely things that we’ve learnt from today and I hope that we can improve for tomorrow,. I’ll be giving it everything for everyone who turns up tomorrow and I hope we can have a closer race than we had today.”
What happened to Hamilton at the start?
Hamilton, without a win since May’s Spanish GP, was left ruing the start of the Saturday race after being subjected to the now all-too-familiar feeling of Verstappen, who now has four straight poles, moving clear.
Such was the advantage of Verstappen’s launch, he was ahead of Hamilton well before the opening corner.
But what happened? A bemused Hamilton spoke to Sky F1 afterwards.
“I did everything I was supposed to do,” Hamilton insisted. “The team tell you where you need to be, what target you need to hit with temperatures, tyres, your clutch, and I hit all those things but just had a lot of wheelspin.
“After that I was just trying to get as close as I could but they were just too quick after that.”
Can Hamilton contend with Verstappen in Silverstone’s main race?
Coming into the F1 Sprint, it looked like Mercedes and Hamilton had turned the tables on Red Bull and Verstappen, but the championship leaders once again proved their title credentials by bouncing back on Saturday.
Mercedes and Red Bull have opted for different strategies this weekend – with Merc much quicker on the straights and Red Bull through the corners – but appear to still be extremely evenly matched on pace.
What’s clear, according to Hamilton, is that it will be tough to catch the pole-sitting Verstappen if he stays ahead at the start.
Asked by Sky F1’s Natalie Pinkham whether there were any chinks in Red Bull’s armour, Hamilton said: “Doesn’t look like it at the moment. They’re solid, they’re really, really solid.
“We keep fighting. We’re closer, it’s just once he’s in the front it’s very difficult to hold onto him.”
He the expanded on Mercedes’ comeback efforts.
“I don’t know when I’ll be able to tell you all the things that we’ve been fighting and trying to improve through the year but it’s been a real struggle for us on certain elements of the car,” he explained.
“I think we’ve done such a great job to get to the performance we had yesterday, Valtteri did a great job so we’ve got good performance from two cars this weekend, and I’m trying to help on that so we move forwards as a team.”
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