Lewis Hamilton was buoyed by Mercedes’ latest upgrade at the United States Grand Prix, stating that it’s “one of the first he’s actually felt over the last two years.”

Hamilton was a contender at the top throughout Friday’s qualifying hour, ending up third on the grid for Sunday’s race, only 0.139s adrift of pole man Charles Leclerc.

Mercedes have introduced a revised floor this weekend that Technical Director James Allison claimed would determine whether the team is on the “right track” for next year.

That declaration arrived after Hamilton highlighted Mercedes needs “the greatest six months of development” the side’s ever had to challenge Red Bull immediately in 2024.

Following the German marque’s struggles in this rules cycle, Hamilton was pleased that Mercedes “last big update” of 2023 finally provided a step forward from the outset.

“I don’t know really if it’s a signifier of anything for next year,” he said. As we continue to experiment, we get more and more knowledge of where we are going, where we are routing the flow of the car.

“The floor is not a huge amount different. There’s always hype with someone’s upgrade, but the rest of the car is exactly the same and there’s lots of areas in which we can improve.

“But this is an improvement. This is one of the first upgrades that I’ve actually felt over the last two years.

“So that’s, that’s a positive and we just need two or three times this step to put us in, you know, super competitive mode, which I believe the guys can do.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in qualifying parc ferme. 20.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Qualifying Day

Although Hamilton admits the W14 “feels almost the same”, he also contends that it’s “levelled up pretty much everywhere.”

“I’m really grateful for the improvements that the team have made with the car,” he added.

“Everyone’s worked so hard to bring some upgrades and, for us to be this close to McLaren and Ferrari and even the Red Bulls, I think it’s a showing of just how hard everyone’s worked.”

Hamilton will be bidding for a seventh US GP victory on Sunday, but the Briton believes the lack of running beforehand has delivered an obscure picture of the pecking order.

The intervention of the Sprint format this weekend ensured that the teams were only allocated a single practice hour to dial their cars in ahead of qualifying commencing.

Asked to rate his chances, Hamilton replied: “Too early to say. None of us have done any long-running, so I have no idea.

“Maybe with the Red Bull not in the top three, maybe that makes it a better closer battle because they’re often quite a bit ahead and just disappear into the distance.

“So hopefully, the three of us can have a tight battle.”

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