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Lewis Hamilton: 'We need to work harder'

TOUGH LUCK: Lewis Hamilton appeared dejected following his defeat at the Belgian Grand Prix; inset left, Hamilton congratulates eventual winner Sebastien Vettel on the podium

LEWIS HAMILTON says his Mercedes team will simply have to keep on working if they are to stave off the charge from nearest rivals Ferrari as the title chase heats up after the summer break.

Finishing second in Spa to a clearly superior Sebastian Vettel-driven car, Hamilton said after the race that Mercedes had been pretty confident in their recent changes to the car but it looks like they will have to find even more pace if they are to retain the 2017 title.

“Well, we came here with a pretty good upgrade and, I mean, generally, every time we do bring an upgrade they bring a bigger one,” said Hamilton.

He added: “We knew they were quick on the straights.

“They were quicker, particularly in qualifying in the last sector. We’ve known for the last four races or so that they’ve had some things on their car that’s enabled them to be quicker on the straights and yeah, we’ve just got to work harder, I guess.”

Vettel, who surpassed Alain Post with his 52nd career victory by securing maximum points in Belgium, said his win was made easier by the commotion on the first lap.

“First lap: yeah, I had a great start and then I’m not sure Lewis saw me. He pushed me quite far to the left, but I knew my chance would be later on, up the hill. “I think I timed it quite well. Obviously last year I was always ending up short, so yeah, it seems like it was better this year. Obviously we had a little bit less wing. Timing is crucial and I managed that perfectly I thought but then the Force India came as well.

“But as soon as I was ahead I was quite relieved. Obviously with the safety car it was the other way round. So I thought ‘well, I got that done, and now I get the safety car’.

“But I had a very good restart; I had a very good exit out of the first corner, kept it clean, it was tricky with the tail wind braking for the first turn. After that a very smooth race. Lewis pushed very hard, especially in the first stint, towards the end he was very fast.

“In the second stint I could turn everything down a little bit and control the pace. But yeah, a great weekend.”

Looking ahead, Hamilton said the circuits which have long straights will be where Ferrari are expected to be strong.

“You’ve got Mexico, long straights, they will have the advantage there. They generally have the advantage at places like Singapore. The next race, with this kind of performance they have on straights, we might struggle to match them there. We gave it everything we had today. We were, generally, often quicker in the middle sector in qualifying but for some reason, I think in the race even then, I couldn’t keep up. For them to pull over a second gap, that’s some serious pace they had today so we’ve just got to keep working hard and keep pushing.”

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