Hamilton felt win possible, praises 'sensible' Leclerc for Copse fight

Hamilton felt win possible, praises 'sensible' Leclerc for Copse fight

Lewis Hamilton felt like he had a chance of winning the British Grand Prix but, “A bunch of things went against us,” as he praised Charles Leclerc for racing him so cleanly at Copse.

The initial start saw Hamilton get a great launch to run third at Turn 1 behind Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, but the race was red-flagged due to a huge crash for Guanyu Zhou. With so many cars not clearing the second Safety Car line by the time the red flag came out, the original starting grid was used for the restart, but Hamilton was closing on the leading Ferraris despite a poor second getaway before being limited back to third after a late Safety Car period.

“Definitely, for a while it was feeling on,” Hamilton told Sky Sports. “A bunch of things went against us. The start — we got up to third then they put us back to fifth. Then I lost ground to Lando , so I spent a bunch of laps trying to get past him.

“Then the gap was five or six seconds to the Ferraris, but I was doing good time, catching them up. I did a good long stint and I thought, ‘Yes, maybe we can fight for a win here.’ Unfortunately the gap was too big and the pitstop was not very quick. Then at the end, I just struggled with the warm-up and lost out to two cars. It was so tough today.”

Part of the final stint saw Hamilton enjoy a thrilling battle with Leclerc for third, overtaking the Ferrari around the outside of Luffield, only to see Leclerc reply with an incredible move around the outside of Copse — where Hamilton and Verstappen collided a year ago — that saw them race inches apart.

“Charles did a great job; what a great battle. He is a very sensible driver — clearly a lot different to what I experienced last year. At Copse, for example, the two of us went through there with no problem. What a battle. We had to have a tire deficit to get past him. Really, really amazing weekend.”

After his second consecutive podium and being in the frame for victory, Hamilton says it feels like Mercedes is making real progress at present.

“I’d like to think we’re kind of on the turning point. We are still on the bend. A big improvement from the car; we still have more work to do but a big thank you to the team for the upgrades. We need more, but I am so grateful to be back in the fight, so thanks to them.”

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