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Hamilton: Mercedes needs to start focusing on F1 2024 to match Red Bull

Lewis Hamilton reckons Mercedes needs to "take our eye a little bit off the ball" this year and focus on 2024 Formula 1 car development to catch Red Bull.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Red Bull celebrated 100 race wins at the weekend courtesy of Max Verstappen claiming victory in the Canadian Grand Prix by 9.57 seconds over Fernando Alonso.

Hamilton completed the podium, but a strong initial launch meant he temporarily jumped Alonso to follow Verstappen. The Mercedes driver then noted the strength of the rear axle of the RB19 and how he fell back to the Red Bull through major acceleration zones.

The seven-time champion felt that, following the major upgrade for the W14 that arrived in Monaco, Mercedes is "definitely getting closer" but indicated that his team must not get bogged down in focusing on this season when Red Bull may have already turned to 2024.

He said: "It's been a great weekend. 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.

"For us to be up there, having battles with Fernando in the Aston, and being on the second row, it's been great. To be on the podium two races in a row is 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 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 happy to be up there."

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

However, even if Red Bull has dedicated some resources to 2024 already, Hamilton still thinks it is likely that the Milton Keynes squad "will win every race" for the rest of the season.

But, he says, this prospect is not a source of frustration.

He added: "It's not a frustration anymore, if it ever was… There's nothing I can do about their amazing performance.

"It's likely that they will win every race, moving forwards, this year, unless the Astons and us put a lot more performance on the cars, or their car doesn't finish.

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"It's not easy with the regulations to find the amount of performance that they have, advantage-wise. They've got to be 30 [downforce] points upon us in certain points through the lap and we've got some work to do.

"But it's not that it's frustrating… I'm happy to firstly be back in the mix and I'm just hoping at some stage we can have it all a little bit more level so we can get back to some of the good races we had back in 2021. To have all three of us in a super-tight battle would be sick."

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