Sir Lewis Hamilton was in good spirits on Thursday despite the grid penalty that will see him start from the back at the Italian Grand Prix.
The Briton has taken on his fourth power unit going into this weekend, incurring his first penalty of the season after Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and Verstappen had all taken grid drops of their own.
It is testament to the superb reliability of the W13 that the 37-year-old’s first drop of the year has not arrived until the 16th round, and it is as a precaution rather than because of a failure.
One thing the Mercedes has lacked this campaign, in stark contrast to previous years, is straight-line speed.
While Hamilton and George Russell have been quick in the corners, they have struggled with drag, and this was not helped by the “porpoising” and bouncing they faced at the start of the year.
To some extent, they still feel that now, but after nine podiums in the last eight races – the last of which came last weekend through Russell, there is plenty more reason for the eight-time champions to feel positive.
Hamilton was in contention for the win until a late Safety Car intervened on his attempts, so the joy of racing is still much at a high in Brackley, which is why the grid penalty will not dampen the 103-time race winner’s mood going into the Italian Grand Prix.
“It’s a race weekend, I love racing,” he said during Mercedes’ media session.
“I love these back-to-backs, I could race almost every weekend, it means there’s always an opportunity.
“If we had this week to dwell on last week, and we had to wait until next week to get back in the car, perhaps I wouldn’t be as positive today.
“But, it’s the idea that there’s new opportunities this weekend, and I love a challenge.
“So, coming from the back is going to be tough for sure, but I’m focused on getting those points for the team.”
Hamilton finished fourth in the Netherlands last weekend as Russell ended second behind race winner Verstappen, with Leclerc coming home third.
The other Ferrari of Sainz finished eighth after an unsafe release penalty, so Mercedes have closed the gap to the Scuderia to 30 points in the battle for second in the championship.
Ferrari go into their home race this weekend looking to keep their title hopes alive, but due to Red Bull’s suitability to power tracks, Verstappen and Sergio Perez are considered the favourites.