Mercedes needs to find speed gains – Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has outlined that Mercedes needs to find “drastic improvements” in its straight-line speed if it is to contend with rival Ferrari.

Mercedes has dominated the bulk of the 2019 Formula 1 season, taking 10 wins from 13 races, but has trailed Ferrari at power-hungry venues.

At Spa-Francorchamps Ferrari led every session throughout the weekend, with the SF90 typically significantly faster than Mercedes through the power-heavy first and final sectors.

Mercedes, meanwhile, held a sizeable advantage through the middle sector, which comprises a sequence of medium- and high-speed corners.

Hamilton finished runner-up to Charles Leclerc at the Belgian Grand Prix, extending his title advantage over Valtteri Bottas to 65 points, but cautioned that Mercedes has work to do.

“[Monza is] all straights, so, it’s going to be a happy weekend most likely for Ferrari in that respect,” said Hamilton as he looked ahead to the Italian Grand Prix next weekend.

“This weekend we are losing over a second in qualifying, a second per lap, so there is not much me and Valtteri can do in that instance, and there’s not many corners to catch it up.

“It will be interesting. In the next few days, we’ve got to make some drastic improvements to our straight speed somehow. I don’t know if it is possible but I think if anyone can do it, it is our team. We will do our best. 

“Position is also everything. We’ve got slightly better degradation than them, so maybe, and it is a longer race so hopefully we can have another close race like we’ve had this weekend.”

Hamilton overhauled early-stopping Sebastian Vettel after the pit stop phase and reeled in Leclerc, on a similar strategy, during the closing stages, but fell 0.9s short of denying the Ferrari driver a maiden win.

“I executed it the best I could, strategy maybe could have been slightly better, after Seb stopped, I was trying to keep up with him but he was very strong on the Soft tyre,” said Hamilton.

“We just stayed out too long I think, because by the team he came in on the next lap, the gap was twice as big. Catching that up, and also I got stuck behind Seb. 

“Ultimately, he [Leclerc] did a superb job. Even if we had different strategies, it would have been hard to beat him today.”

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