Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he’s “praying” that Mercedes will have a strong package in 2024, with the British driver believing that if given a good enough car, he is “one of the only drivers” who can fight Max Verstappen.
Hamilton hasn’t properly fought Verstappen since the 2021 season finale, which he lost under extremely controversial circumstances after ex-race director Michael Masi failed to follow the rule book.
Since then, the seven-time World Champion has had little success, with him still yet to claim a victory since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
He has started from pole once in the new aerodynamic era of the sport, although he couldn’t convert it into a podium at the Hungarian Grand Prix earlier this season.
Mercedes simply haven’t been able to offer him a package capable of challenging for victories, with even podiums having been a challenge to come by this season following McLaren’s staggering improvement.
Just trying to get amongst the podiums isn’t what Hamilton’s striving for though, as he’s targeting the dominant Dutchman.
“I’m praying every day that we will close the gap and we will hit the ground running,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1. “I want to be fighting Max, I believe I’m one of the only drivers that can do so.”
It’s obvious that Mercedes need a better package to truly take the fight to Red Bull; however, it’s not the only area which needs improvement.
The Silver Arrows’ pit-stops have been very disappointing, with them rarely completing them as quickly as the likes of Red Bull and McLaren.
Hamilton’s two pit-stops at the United States Grand Prix actually impacted the driver’s chances of victory, prior to his disqualification, of course.
He lost over a second during each stop, something which would’ve made a huge difference given that he finished the race just 2.2s behind Verstappen.
The 103-time race winner has called for the Brackley-based team to improve on their pit-stops, with having a good car not being enough anymore to become champions.
“We’ve got to have the package, not only the car but we’ve got to be operating better in our pit stops,” Hamilton added. “There’s so many areas we’ve got to be levelling up to match the champions.”
Pit-stops have become so competitive over recent years because of the huge impact they can have.
With Mercedes often taking at least three seconds per-stop, compared to McLaren who are often under two seconds, it’s clear where unnecessary time is being lost.
Hamilton has called for the team to “ramp up our game” when it comes to pit-stops, as every component of a Grand Prix weekend must be perfect nowadays to be victorious.
“Our mindset in the last 12 years, we don’t need to be world champions in pit-stops,” Hamilton said. “We need to avoid very slow pit-stops. And it’s coming to a situation now where we realise that it has got so competitive, and we just need to ramp up our game up there.
“That’s in terms of equipment and science around it, and the way we are set up, to avoid 3 or 3.5 seconds pit-stops because all of that played a part.”