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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Other SportsLewis Hamilton: Red Bull 'in the distance' despite Mercedes improvements

Lewis Hamilton: Red Bull ‘in the distance’ despite Mercedes improvements

Though Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes have clearly improved their car ahead of the 2024 Formula One season, he acknowledges Red Bull remain “out in the distance”.

This year will be Hamilton’s last with his current team, with the seven-time world champion agreeing to join Ferrari for 2025 after activating a break clause in his Mercedes contract.

Hamilton has endured back-to-back winless campaigns, with Mercedes fighting reliability issues with their W13 and W14 cars in 2022 and 2023.

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Having set the 12th-fastest time on the final day of pre-season testing ahead of next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton believes Mercedes’ latest effort – the W15 – represents a clear step up.

However, he knows Red Bull remain some way clear of the competition, with the constructors’ champions having won 31 of the last 33 races across the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

“It felt much more enjoyable to drive,” Hamilton said of Mercedes’ new car on Friday.

“We still have time to find more. It’s a good platform to work from, a much better car to start the season with. Red Bull clearly are out in the distance.”

Hamilton has won six of his seven world titles while driving for Mercedes, with the most recent of his triumphs coming in 2020. Ahead of his move to Maranello, the 39-year-old is determined to go out on a high.

“This chapter is still not finished,” he added. “I am still 100 per cent focused on finishing on a high with this team and have absolute faith in everything going on in the team.

“We will try to close the gap to the Red Bulls somehow.”

Asked about his decision to sign with Ferrari just a few months on from penning a new two-year-deal with Mercedes, Hamilton said sporting the Scuderia’s iconic red livery was a dream shared by every driver.

“Last summer, we signed [the new contract] and I saw my future with Mercedes,” Hamilton said. “But an opportunity came up at the end of the year and I decided to take it.

“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I’ve been with Mercedes… I think it’s 26 years they have supported me. We have had an absolutely incredible journey.

“We have created history in the sport and I am very proud of what we achieved, but ultimately I am writing my story and I felt like it was time to start a new chapter.

“You see the driver in the red cockpit and you wonder what it would be like to be surrounded by red.

“You go to the Italian Grand Prix and you see the Ferrari fans. It is a team that has not had huge success since Michael Schumacher’s day, and I saw it as a huge challenge.

“Even as a kid, I used to play on GP2 as Michael! I’m really, really excited by it.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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