Lewis Hamilton baffled by Ferrari’s speed

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Belgium, Circuit De Spa-Francorchampsbe

Lewis Hamilton reminded his team to step up its game and introduce the innovative solutions of rival team Ferrari which has recently enabled its drivers to show controlling pace.

The four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton won the last two races before the summer break, but that was mainly possible for him because of recent mixed and rainy conditions in deciding moments of the German and Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.

At Spa, Ferrari topped all three free practice sessions and the first two qualifying segments, but a brief rain shower in Q3 ended their strong showing, favoring Mercedes’ more gentle engine modes. It enabled Hamilton to take pole position for yesterday’s race, but his championship rival Sebastian Vettel did not wait for too long in the Grand Prix and passed him on the opening lap on the Kemmel straight.

Speaking right after the chequered flag fell, the Briton said Ferrari was aided by “a few trick things on the car”, which enabled Vettel's SF71H to breeze past him on the straight. Both Mercedes and Ferrari introduced new power units at Spa which should be their last specification for this year as any further changes would result in a grid penalty for both Hamilton and Vettel. Prior to the race weekend, the Briton pinned hopes on Mercedes‘ upgrades, but he sounded downbeat after the Belgian GP.

“We came here with a pretty good upgrade,” Hamilton said. “Generally every time we bring an upgrade they bring a bigger one."

“We knew they were quick on the straights, they were quicker in qualifying in the first and last sector. We’ve known for the last four races or so that they’ve had some things on their car that’s made them quicker on the straights. We’ve just got to work harder, I guess.”

Hamilton suggested that Ferrari might have innovative solutions on its cars, mainly on its power unit which are unknown for Mercedes, the team which, ironically, dominated Formula One for four years due to their unbeatable engines. The Briton hopes that the Anglo-German team can find out what Ferrari’s creative solutions are and introduce them on their own car.

“We all have trick things on our car. Trick is just a word for something special. I don’t know what’s on their car so I couldn’t tell you either way.

“I’m not saying they are doing anything illegal. We all have something trick. It’s just something that brings that extra bit of performance. They just outperformed us today. There are things they might have on the car that we don’t have and vice versa and we’ve got to find out what and improve on that.”

As for Ferrari’s commanding race pace, Hamilton said that he gave up at one point of the race because he could not replicate the lap times of Sebastian Vettel.

“In both stints he had a little bit more pace than me. Towards the end of the first stint I seemed to be closing a little bit, able to match him, but in the end it made no sense [to push] – he was doing times I wasn’t able to equal,” concluded the championship leader.