Lewis Hamilton believes Red Bull is marginally quicker than Mercedes and other teams are within striking distance after Friday practice at the Belgian Grand Prix.
The two Mercedes drivers led the opening session but Max Verstappen was within 0.1s, and then the Dutchman duly topped the times in FP2. Hamilton was third on Friday afternoon behind Daniel Ricciardo, and while he’s not concerned by Mercedes’ pace he says it looks like he has a fight on his hands at Spa-Francorchamps.
“It was generally a good day,” Hamilton said. “I love driving around this track, it’s incredible. I think it drizzled a little bit for the F3s or F2s but fortunately for us it was dry, so it gave us plenty of time to get running in and understand the car.
“It’s very close out there between us. I think the Red Bulls are just a little bit quicker at the moment, but even Racing Point I think is right with us, then also Daniel Ricciardo and the Renaults are very close. That makes it exciting. We’ve got some work to do, that’s for sure, to dial in the car a bit more, but it doesn’t feel bad at all.
“I think the car from race to race is just different — each way we go, some places we’re ahead, some places we’re behind. As I anticipated coming into this weekend, it’s only the seventh race; the field is going to get closer as we continue to develop, the whole of F1 develops and it’s already showing that this weekend.
“We seem to be so close with everyone, and we’ve got to understand why — whether they’ve taken a step (forward) or we’ve taken a step back, or if it’s just a track layout, or downforce level; who knows, we’ll work on that. But I’m excited for an interesting race, that’s for sure.”
Hamilton says the experience of driving at Spa-Francorchamps is as special as ever in the 2020 cars that have been setting lap records at many circuits.
“It’s so rapid here. It’s difficult to explain it. Every year our cars get faster and faster, particularly with this generation of car. I mean, already last year the car was pretty spectacular here but it’s pretty phenomenal the speeds we can go through corners, and it’s all about the little nuances that you have to change in terms of the driving style and how you approach corners now that you have more downforce. Pouhon’s flat out — it’s hair-raising, crazy.”