Lewis Hamilton had school day in US GP sprint behind Max Verstappen: What did he learn?

Lewis Hamilton starts the 2023 US GP from third behind Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris

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Lewis Hamilton was pleased to study Max Verstappen‘s dominant RB19 in the 2023 United States GP sprint race, where he trailed the Dutchman by just under ten seconds.

It’s just the third time he’s come home directly behind Verstappen in 2023, and Hamilton admitted Mercedes still have plenty of work to do to catch Red Bull over the winter break.

George Russell finished seven seconds and three places behind Sergio Perez in the other side of the teammates battle, but Hamilton has slightly eroded the Mexican’s margin for second in the drivers’ championship.

“I just couldn’t bridge the gap enough to Max and then once I was out of his DRS then he just started to get away and cruising,” Verstappen told the media. “So it was really, not that I haven’t seen it already this year, but it was a good position to be able to watch what the Red Bull‘s car, what Max‘s car was doing, how it’s behaving.

“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 I know if there’s anywhere we’re stronger and where we’re weaker, so I can download that to my team.”

Max Verstappen of Red Bull leads Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes during 2023 US GP Sprint | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

However, the impromptu study session doesn’t seem to have provided any revelatory news for Mercedes, who brought a new floor to the Circuit of the Americas.

Verstappen‘s points tally would be enough to win the constructors’ championship on his own, and he’ll likely go into 2024 as the odds-on favourite to win a fourth-successive world title.

“We have a lot of work to do, everyone behind these guys have a lot of work to do,” Hamilton added. “And 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. And to make it even steeper for us to be able to close that gap. But I put 100% faith in my team that we can do it.”

Mercedes feeling good in Austin

Hamilton was pleased with Mercedes‘ performance at the Circuit of the Americas – a track where he’s been historically strong even by he’s own record-shattering standards.

Hamilton‘s only finished off the podium once since Formula 1‘s inaugural visit in 2012, and has won five times in ten attempts.

He’ll start the grand prix from third – the same grid spot he occupied in the sprint – with Verstappen all the way back in sixth this time around.

“I didn’t get that great a start but obviously it was quite aggressive turn one and I had a good battle with Charles, but then after that, yeah, but the car was feeling pretty good,” Hamilton said.

“So I was just attacking from the get-go trying to get as close as I could whilst the call felt like that. And then I think everyone’s tyres were struggling towards the end of that sprint.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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