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Hamilton: Verstappen F1 data download has highlighted work still to do

Lewis Hamilton says the data download he got from following Max Verstappen’s Red Bull closely in Austin’s Formula 1 sprint race has exposed the work Mercedes still has to do.

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

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

Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

The seven-time world champion emerged as Verstappen’s main challenger in the sprint at the United States Grand Prix after snatching second place from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on the exit of the first corner.

Hamilton appeared to be able to match Verstappen in pace terms for the first few laps but, as tyre degradation kicked in, his Red Bull rival was able to extend his advantage to comfortably pull clear by the chequered flag.

While the run of form left Hamilton in no doubt that Red Bull is still the class of the field, he has said that the things he took on board from running so closely to Verstappen will be a help to his Mercedes squad in understanding what makes the RB19 so good.

“It was a good position to be able to watch what Max’s car was doing, and how it was behaving,” said Hamilton.

“So, I got to watch for a while and see where they are particularly strong, which we can obviously see that on GPS or something like that.

“But still at least [it was valuable] to know where we are, if there's anywhere we're stronger, and where we’re weaker, so I can download that to my team. And at the end, I think everyone's tyres were struggling towards the end of that stint.”

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

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

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

Pushed a bit on what lessons he has taken on board from shadowing Verstappen for those laps, Hamilton said: “That we have a lot of work to do. Everyone behind these guys has a lot of work to do.

“It's no small feat for us to truly catch them for next year. They will be progressing at a steep rate, as they've got an amazing development team to make it even steeper for us to be able to close that gap. But I’m going to put 100% faith in my team that we can do it.”

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Hamilton reckoned that Verstappen’s pace advantage over the rest of the field in the sprint was around half a second – which is massive in F1 terms.

“We're not in the same league as them at the moment so we're not in shooting [range],” added Hamilton. “I mean maybe to get second or third, but if Max is on form, there's no chance.”

Hamilton starts third again in the grand prix on Sunday, and has one eye on an opportunity to win, but is mindful that Verstappen’s pace in the sprint was so strong that he cannot be ruled out despite lining up sixth on the grid.

“Anything's possible,” he said. “I mean, he's got at least half a second on all the cars ahead of him per lap, pretty much. So that should be enough to get by.

“But there is degradation and those sorts of things and strategy. I assume he will be climbing relatively fast. So, we will have a job on our hands up ahead to try and hold him back. It's a track that you can overtake, so it is likely that he will be finishing high up tomorrow.”

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