Hamilton sets target on Verstappen’s back

Lewis Hamilton is eyeing up Max Verstappen if not by the end of 2023, then the start of the 2024 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton has set his sights on hunting down Max Verstappen and his current dominance in Formula 1.

The British driver finished P2 in the Spanish Grand Prix in an encouraging race for the upgraded Mercedes car, but is not settling for podium scraps as he seeks to get back to winning ways.

“I want to keep going for as long as I can, but I want to be where he [Verstappen] is, or racing against him,” Hamilton said to select members of the media, including Total-Motorsport.com.

“So I’m super, super focused on that, and yeah, it’s a long way to go but there’s time.”

Hamilton targeting 2024

Hamilton feels that this season, the Red Bull is too far out of sight, at times enjoying a one second per lap advantage over the field and claiming every single win of 2023 so far.

“With the current car we have, I don’t think we’ll be matching their performance but we’re working on improving the car,” explained Hamilton.

“With the current package, we’ ae limited to the pace that we had on Sunday, but I think there’s a huge amount of work and studying and improvement that we hopefully will have coming in the future.

“I’m more focused on making sure that next year we have the car to challenge them from day one.”

When will Hamilton end his winless streak?

It’s the 2021 Saudi Arabian GP and Hamilton has just claimed victory in a chaotic race-long battle against Verstappen.

The win saw Hamilton keep his dream for an eighth championship alive as he pulled exactly level on points in the standings with Verstappen.

F1 – Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the race alongside second placed Max Verstappen REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

At the time, it would have been unthinkable to think that this would be Hamilton’s last official win in F1 but over 18 months on, that’s how it is.

This had led to the motivation of him being called into question as pundits and fans wondered how long he would give Mercedes to recover to the front.

Rumours of discontentment from both parties has circulated, with the press firing up talks that Mercedes could go after Charles Leclerc – who is enduring a difficult time at Ferrari.

But it has appeared Hamilton’s motivation has not wavered and has, in-fact, fuelled his desire for victory and competitiveness.

Mercedes started the new era of regulations on the backfoot with their 2022 car being off the pace and plagued with porpoising, long after other teams figured out how to manage the problem.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during the 2022 Bahrain GP REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Despite a difficult start to 2022, the Brackley-based team ended the season with a win and had appeared to close to the gap to Red Bull only to be dealt another blow in 2023.

At the opener in Bahrain, Mercedes were once again well off-the-pace and had also lost ground to one of their customer teams in Aston Martin. It was at this moment they abandoned the ‘no sidepods’ concept and began a reset that has looked promising since being introduced at the Monaco GP.

“I think my hunger has never really shifted,” Hamilton said after the Spanish GP. “I think I’m in a really great place in my life, and I think I’m really happy where I am in my life.

“I’ve got a great, great team around me, both off track and on track, there’s great stuff that’s happening with Mission 44 – that’s got a great time in London and we’re starting to see the impact.

“I’ve got a great team of engineers here and I’ve been with Bono [Peter Bonnington] for a long time. I feel like what Bono and Mike [Elliott] and all the guys are doing is such a fantastic job and I think for me, I feel fit and healthy.”

Where is the next F1 2023 race?

With the F1 circus finished in Spain, the next race is the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix which will be held at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal over the weekend of June 16-18.

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