Lewis Hamilton makes US Grand Prix prediction after Sprint reality check

Michelle Foster
Red Bull drive Max Verstappen smiling as he speaks with Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton wary of Red Bull's 'undeniable' pace

Trounced by Max Verstappen in the Sprint, Lewis Hamilton believes it is only a matter of time before the Red Bull driver is on his rear wing in the Grand Prix such is the RB19’s “undeniable” pace.

Having the season’s record-setter lining up P6 on the grid would, in most cases, give his opposition a fighting chance in a Grand Prix.

Not when it comes to Verstappen, at least not with this year’s form.

Lewis Hamilton: Red Bull’s pace is just undeniable at the moment

The Red Bull driver missed out on pole position in Friday’s qualifying at the Circuit of The Americas as, despite being 0.005s faster than Charles Leclerc, his lap time was deleted for a track limit violation.

That dropped the Dutchman to sixth with Leclerc on pole ahead of Lando Norris and Hamilton.

They were hoping to fight the Red Bull driver for the win, that was until they saw his pace in the Sprint race.

Starting from pole position on Saturday, Verstappen was quick to shrug off Hamilton’s challenge and went on to win the Sprint by 9.4s. That was his advantage after just 19 laps.

It has Hamilton predicting it won’t be long before Verstappen is fighting for the lead with him taking his 15th win of the season the likely outcome.

“Ultimately, I think he will be breathing down our necks before too long, with the pace that he had today,” said the Mercedes driver.

“But I think that will open up for a good fight with Charles and Lando. We’re all quite similar in pace. So hopefully, we get to have a good battle.

“And if we can all keep Max behind that’d be awesome. But if not, no worries.”

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Hamilton conceded Red Bull’s pace is “just undeniable at the moment” with the Briton adding that although Mercedes are a “little bit closer”, they still have a “long way to be able to eke the pace that he is doing.”

Norris too is wary about Verstappen’s charge as while he reckons he could take the lead off pole-sitter Leclerc, he’d only be P1 “until Max comes along.

“The pace is very good,” he told Sky F1. “I think Hamilton’s going to be our competition and Max coming through.”

Leclerc is also predicting another victory for Verstappen.

“It’s going to be tight, as much as it’s going to be tight also with the Mercedes guys and Lewis,” said the Ferrari driver. “I expect Max to get ahead and to not be too much of a fight but then otherwise it’s going to be tight.

“I think we have to look into our data and try to understand what we can do better for degradation because the pace is there, it’s always been there, sometimes we seem to be a bit inconsistent with our race pace.”

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