Lewis Hamilton believes that his unsuccessful pursuit of McLaren’s Lando Norris in the closing stages of the British Grand Prix exposed Mercedes’ current high-speed performance weakness.

The seven-time World Champion lined up seventh for his home event after a tough outing for Mercedes in qualifying that saw neither of its drivers crack the top five.

However, a fortunately timed Safety Car on Lap 34 enabled Hamilton to leap ahead of both Ferraris, team-mate George Russell and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri into third position.

Hamilton, who scored his 14th podium at Silverstone, explains that running long and hoping for a Safety Car was a strategy his side of the garage had targeted in advance.

“I really didn’t expect to be on the podium today,” he admitted.

“But when we go through all the different strategy options, this is the one you hope for, which is the Safety Car.

“I basically put on the Medium tyre in the hope and plan to just stay out on them until the very end, until the Safety Car potentially would come, and fortunately it did.

“So our long run pace is really good and really grateful for the team for continuing to push.

“We do have a lot of work to do on our car to put ourselves in proper competitive form to fight the Red Bulls and now McLarens.”

Despite going onto a set of Soft tyres compared to Norris on Hards ahead, Hamilton was unable to overtake the McLaren once the race resumed.

On one occasion, the Mercedes had appeared to edge in front at Brooklands, but Norris nudged back ahead and defended valiantly into Copse to preserve second.

Hamilton was particularly impressed by McLaren’s strength through the high-speed corners and says Mercedes must strive to improve its own performance in that area.

“I mean, that thing [McLaren] was rapid through the high-speed corners,” he proclaimed. “Wow. I couldn’t keep up, but we had a good little battle on the restart.”

“I threw it up the insight into Turn 7 in the hope that I can finally… this is the moment that I’m going to make it happen and I pressed the overtake button… Did you press the overtake button?

“So we’re both going down the road with the overtake but he had less drag so I guess he said they had a smaller wing and they just started pulling so I had to back out.

“But I was relatively quick in the first half of the lap and I think if you look at our qualifying laps, we were very, very close to Max all the way until… I think it’s until Turn 13 and then that’s where they pull all their time. So we’ve got some work to do to improve our high-speed performance.”

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. 09.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, Race Day.

Silverstone marked the second round in succession McLaren had the edge over Mercedes, with Norris having overtaken Hamilton at the previous race in Austria.

The Woking side has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround since introducing its heavily revised MCL60 at the Red Bull Ring and secured a double top-four finish on Sunday.

When asked if he thought McLaren’s MCL60 was a faster car than the Mercedes W14 during the British GP weekend, Hamilton replied: “Yep. Yes, 100% and last week.

“But this is the first time in a long time and they deserved to have the performance they have, as I said, so we’ve got to do a better job.

“They’ve now done a better job than us and looking forward… What I would say is that this is one of the most exciting times I think we’ve seen in the sport where we’re finally starting to see the regs pull people closer.

“You’ve seen the Williams was up there with Albon. You’ve seen the McLarens now, the Astons so we have a lot of teams getting very, very close: small gaps within qualifying which is exactly what we need.

“So I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the year evolve.”

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