Despite taking a dominant victory at the Spanish Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton believes the title battle is “closer than people think”.
Hamilton took another of Michael Schumacher’s records as he scored his 156th podium finish in Formula 1, dominating the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya from start to finish.
Other than a brief threat of rain and some midfield strategy battles it was a low-key race with Verstappen encountering zero pressure on his journey to P2 and Hamilton breezing to victory in P1.
Hamilton is now 37 points ahead of Verstappen at the top of the Drivers’ Championship and it appears it is a case of when rather than if we start referring to him as seven-time World Champion.
But he said that digging deeper into the situation shows that gap doesn’t paint a full picture of the title fight.
“After the last race [at Silverstone] I looked at the standings and saw Max was second. If he didn’t have the DNF in the first race he would have only been 12 points behind so it is a lot closer than people think in the driver standings,” he told Sky F1.
“And generally in the race, Red Bull are right there with us. But today, though, I was just in such a different headspace in the car it was a beautiful feeling, better than I have had in a long time.
“I was just in a daze out there. I was in a different [zone], I felt really good.
“Fantastic effort from the team, but God, it felt good out there today.
“It was a real surprise, because we had this problem with the tyres. Management was very, very good.
“That’s ultimately our understanding of what happened last week, that we brought into this weekend, has inevitably enabled us to do what we did today.
“I didn’t even know it was the last lap at the end. That’s how zoned in I was. I was ready to keep going.”
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) August 16, 2020
Track temperatures went into the low 50s during the race, the kind of heat which had cost Mercedes at Silverstone last weekend.
But with the problems seemingly now behind Mercedes, Hamilton overruled his team during the race when they wanted to put him on the soft tyres.
Hamilton instead insisted on a new set of mediums, and his decision paid off.
“It’s something I studied very hard before the race, understanding what tyres we were going to be using and what strategy we were going to do,” he said.
“As I came to understand, I could make the tyres last longer than we had planned. I was even looking potentially going for a one-stop, but I think the strategy we had was just right.
“At the end, there was no need to take a risk of going on the soft tyre. I had a fresh, brand new medium tyre that I think was best.
“I just want to say a big, big thank you to all of the guys back at the factory, through this really difficult time, for everyone in the world just to continue on, and keep pushing.”