Lewis Hamilton's 'natural ability is fantastic' says Button
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Lewis Hamilton says he’s going to ‘play the long game’ to beat Red Bull and Max Verstappen during Sunday’s British Grand Prix but admitted Mercedes wouldn’t be able to do it on pure pace.
The 36-year-old had to settle for a second-place finish during the sprint qualifying session on Saturday, despite thousands of fans cheering on the seven-time world champion on the sidelines.
Hamilton had been fastest on Friday as he set a blistering lap at Silverstone to secure the front spot ahead of the 17-lap sprint race, a track he’s won at seven times previously.
Mercedes had been looking to make it ten pole positions in a row over the past decade, at a circuit that famously favours the home driver.
The results of the sprint have now determined who starts on pole position, with Verstappen sweeping past the seven-time world champion to secure victory during the inaugural sprint.
“I think he had a lot of pace, and I don’t think he was particularly having to push too hard, whereas we were flat out,” Hamilton explained during the press conference on Saturday evening.
Lewis Hamilton has British Grand Prix sprint regret
“Tomorrow is going to be tough, and if I can try and somehow keep up with them through the stints, maybe we can apply pressure through strategy but we’re not going to be overtaking them on the track, they’re just too fast. So, we play a long game, hopefully.
Verstappen picked up three championship points for his win in the sprint, extending his lead heading into Sunday’s main event by 33 points, with Hamilton adding two to his total for second place.
However, the Briton was left perplexed as to why he suffered such a poor start.
“We have a target position that you have to hit with the clutch and the goal is always to be on target and I was on target.
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“So I did what I was supposed to do, but it didn’t deliver for whatever reason, I don’t know why.
“I had a lot of wheel spin and the rest is history.
“We tried everything obviously [on the opening lap] to get by, just he was too quick.
“He was just too fast today.
Hamilton starts from second on Sunday, behind his main championship rival, as Mercedes look to close the gap in the constructors’ standings too, which has now extended to 47 points.
The race gets underway at 3pm on Sunday afternoon, as Silverstone hosts a full capacity crowd at the Northamptonshire circuit, with three Britons on the grid.
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