Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes is finally “going in the right direction” after he narrowly missed out on taking the on-track victory at the United States Grand Prix.

Having pitted later than his rivals, Hamilton was able to mount a charge in the closing stages to overhaul McLaren’s Lando Norris but fell 2.2s shy of beating Max Verstappen.

However, both Hamilton and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff admitted the side had the potential to beat Red Bull without indecision on the strategy front and two slow pit stops.

But the Briton was enthused by the German marque’s performance at the Circuit of the Americas and hopes the team can perfect those errors if it ends up in a similar position in the remaining four races of this season.

Speaking prior to being disqualified post-race, Hamilton said: “Second is great. To come in this weekend and actually have real strength, it’s a solid second, it’s not just making second, it was a solid second.

“It feels really positive, because we’ve still got a few races up ahead, and I don’t know how the car is going to be in the next races.

“But maybe we’ll be in a position like this and we get the strategy right and get the pit stop right, maybe we’ll be right on their tails and looking at some good racing. So I’m excited.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14.
Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Sunday 22nd October 2023. Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, USA.

Mercedes were boosted by the introduction of an updated floor in Austin that Technical Director James Allison issued would determine if the team is on the “right track”.

After Wolff revealed that “Straight from the get-go in practice one, Lewis said he feels the rear now”, Hamilton concurred that he felt more settled in the W14 around COTA.

Hamilton, though, has relayed caution that Mercedes’ 2023 car retains inherent flaws that can’t be rectified until next season.

Asked if the car was more predictable now: “Yeah, definitely. I think the step that we were able to take this weekend has given me a little bit more confidence in the car to throw it into the corners. So yeah, it was positive.

“I really enjoyed driving around this track. There are still some of the fundamental issues that we’re having with the car, which won’t change until next year.

“But it was really positive as I said to feel that step that we’ve taken. Maybe it was only a tenth upgrade, for example. But there’s at least a tenth of confidence for example that it gave me. So it’s quite interesting, what you see when you have a double knock-on effect.”

Mercedes providing a credible challenge to Red Bull on Sunday left Hamilton feeling “the most positive I’ve felt this year”, despite failing to end his protracted F1 win drought.

However, the seven-time World Champion is wary that Mercedes must avoid a repeat of ending a year on an encouraging note before beginning the next season on the back foot.

The Brackley squad rebounded from a troubled start to 2022 to score a 1-2 in Brazil, but its hopes of returning to title contention this year were dashed from the outset.

Well, look, we had Brazil last year, all of a sudden we were, I don’t know, we were competitive, and then towards the end again, I think we developed really well and we weren’t necessarily the quickest but we were closer at the end of the year,” he noted.

“But yeah. I think this is definitely the most positive I’ve felt this year, but in general it’s not been a terrible year.

“Just knowing the work that’s happening and being in constant contact with the head of aero and the team back, I feel like everyone is really on their toes and really ready to go.

“There’s lots of things we can improve on in terms of processes, all of us. But I’m excited. I definitely believe we’re going in the right direction.”

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