Lewis Hamilton is hopeful the grind from everyone at Mercedes trying to extract maximum out of its car will pay off over the next three races.
Formula 1 resumes this weekend with the Belgian Grand Prix, immediately followed by races at Zandvoort and Monza as part of the second triple-header of the season.
Hamilton comes into that run as the championship leader after finishing second in Hungary, a race he took pole at and looked set for a comfortable victory before a strategic error from Mercedes saw him restart the race as the only car on the grid with intermediate tires.
Despite that setback, the overall performance of the Mercedes in Budapest appeared to be a step forward compared to prior races against Red Bull, and Hamilton is hoping that was a sign of things to come.
“I hope so, I really hope so,” Hamilton said. “I tell you it’s definitely been a hard slog for us in terms of trying to… those guys with their update, they had I think a combination of things but they took a really good step once we got to the mid-point.
“Monaco onwards was intense and the upgrade really has worked. Then we’ve just been working on our procedure through the weekend and trying to extract more from the car and I think now we’re a lot closer.
“(Hungary was) very strong and definitely surprising to see how strong it was compared to them [Red Bull]. So proud of everyone back at the factory, as I said, who continue to not give up.
“We never give up. We keep pushing and fighting and I’m so honored to be able to race for a team like this and we learn from these mistakes. Unfortunately, we wish they didn’t happen, but it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up.”
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Hamilton’s slight note of caution tallies with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner’s point of view, who says the two first-lap crashes involving Max Verstappen mean there hasn’t been a clear understanding of the performance picture over the few weeks before the break.
“I think (the Hungaroring) we expected to favor them,” Horner said. “We didn’t get a clear read in the race, impossible to know, because Max had half a car. So impossible to judge on race pace, but they had a very strong package.
“We’ve had some hugely bad luck the last couple of races. It’s been pretty brutal in damage and parts and engines, but we’ll brush ourselves down and come out fighting for the second half of this championship because obviously it’s been a tough couple of weeks but things can turn around very quickly as you’ve seen in this championship.”