Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes can close the gap to Red Bull after finishing second in the Australian Grand Prix with a car he’s still not comfortable with.
Max Verstappen started on pole position but was overtaken by both Mercedes drivers on the opening lap, with Hamilton going on to lead after a red flag period when teammate George Russell had made a pit stop. Although Verstappen easily overtook him with DRS, Hamilton held off Fernando Alonso for second place and says it’s a big result for Mercedes given how he doesn’t like the feedback his car gives him.
“I still feel uncomfortable in the car though, I don’t feel connected to it,” Hamilton said. “So I’m driving as best I can with that disconnect and I’m working as hard as I can to try and create that connection, but I think it’s a long project. But still, considering we’ve been down on performance, we’re clearly down on end-of-straight pace compared to the Red Bull, for us to be fighting with Aston, it’s just amazing at this point of the season.
“We’ve just got to keep on fighting. A big thank you to all the people back at the factory, let’s keep pushing. We can close that gap – it’s going to be tough but not impossible.
“It’s really unlucky for George today. We’ve got to look into it on our side because our reliability has generally been really good so that’s really unfortunate, but otherwise to get those points is really amazing today — I definitely didn’t expect to be second so I’m super grateful for it.”
Hamilton had told Mercedes over team radio he didn’t believe he could finish the race on an old set of tires at the same pace as Alonso behind, but having done so the seven-time world champion is relishing having so many successful drivers at the sharp end this season.
“I definitely wasn’t bluffing. Honestly I was having to push a lot right at the beginning to keep Max behind and then Fernando was pushing. They’re very, very quick. I think ultimately he was a little bit quicker today behind me but I just managed to hold him off so for that I’m really grateful.
“And also just what a legend… We’ve got a world champion up ahead, we’ve got three world champions in the top three. That’s pretty mega.”