Lewis Hamilton declares Mercedes must begin to focus on next year’s car in order to catch up to Red Bull in time for the start of the 2024 Formula 1 season.

Red Bull has won 18 of the last 19 races to take place, including all eight this year.

Meanwhile, Mercedes has recovered from a sluggish start to the year by introducing a substantial upgrade package to now sit second in the Constructors’ standings.

Hamilton scored his third podium of 2023 and second in succession at the Canadian Grand Prix, confirming the advances the German marque has made.

However, Hamilton asserts that Mercedes, who still sit a huge 154 points behind Red Bull, need to turn its attention towards next year’s W15 car to ensure it can compete with the reigning champions from the outset.

“It’s been a great weekend,” he reflected on Sunday in Montreal. “Very difficult with the conditions but loving being in the car now with the car in a better window and a bit more on the right track.

“And for us to be up there, having battles with Fernando [Alonso] in the Aston, and being just on the second row, it’s been great. And to be on the podium, two races in a row is really, really fantastic for us.

“We were also running fourth in Monaco, so we’re definitely getting closer. And it’s going to be a battle of development, I guess, over the rest of the season.

“I reckon Max’s team are already working on next year’s car, so we need to take our eye a little bit off the ball and focus on next year also but yeah, happy to be up there.”

Hamilton had started Sunday’s race third but immediately moved up to second when he beat Alonso to Turn 1 on the opening lap.

However, Alonso managed to get back ahead of the Briton on track after the first round of stops and despite Hamilton’s attempts to come back at his old rival, the Aston Martin driver retained second to the end.

Having followed both the Red Bull and Aston Martin for prolonged periods at differing points in Canada, Hamilton reveals that the Mercedes W14 is still lacking rear-end performance compared to its rivals.

“Low speed, rear end. His rear end… I mean, I got to experience being behind Max and his rear is very strong,” he explained.

“His rear end doesn’t move and he pulls ten car lengths probably on me just coming out of the corners.

“I think Fernando’s very, very strong on the brakes, and particularly very quick through Turn 10 and Turn 2. Those places, he was taking huge chunks out of me.”

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates in parc ferme with race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing. 18.06.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race Day.

After an underwhelming start to the latest campaign, Mercedes elected to change its development direction and unveiled a revised car at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Although the Brackley side’s results have improved since the updates, Hamilton claims the upgraded car doesn’t feel too dissimilar to the version released at launch.

But the seven-time World Champion does contend that some of the characteristics of next year’s car need to be altered if Mercedes is to compete with Red Bull.

“In truth, it doesn’t feel a huge difference to the beginning of the year,” he assessed.

“There are some elements of the car which do feel different and obviously with the upgrade but it’s just simply just have a little bit more downforce on the car.”

“But the characteristics of the car are very, very similar to what we had earlier on in the year and so we need to… for the future, for the next year’s car, you need to take a lot of these different things off and change them for sure.

“It’s definitely not the car that… characteristic-wise the car that’s going to be able to beat the Red Bull just yet. And so we’ve got to work on that,” Hamilton added.

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