Lewis Hamilton ‘ready to beat’ Max Verstappen and puts target on Sergio Perez’s back

Thomas Maher
Dutch Grand Prix: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton greets his mechanics at Zandvoort.

Dutch Grand Prix: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton greets his mechanics at Zandvoort.

A determined Lewis Hamilton is approaching the second half of the F1 season in resolute mood, and is aiming to topple Sergio Perez…

The Mercedes driver currently occupies fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship, exactly 45 points behind second-place Sergio Perez in the Red Bull – the pair separated by Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.

With Aston Martin having slipped behind the leading teams through the development cycle of the season, Hamilton says it’s the Mexican driver, not the Spaniard, who is his target in the remaining races of the year.

Lewis Hamilton: Chasing down Sergio Perez is my goal

Having spent a few weeks away from racing and enjoying the summer break, Hamilton returned to the paddock in Zandvoort fired up and ready to tackle the final 10 races of the season with the goal of pipping Perez to the runners-up spot.

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper.

Asked what his goals are during the second half of the year, Hamilton told media: “My goal is to try and figure out how to have the best 10 races I’ve ever had in the second half of the season!”

With Red Bull’s performance advantage unlikely to have dissipated anywhere during the few weeks off, Hamilton said he and Mercedes aim to secure best of the rest between now and Abu Dhabi.

“Of course, we know performance-wise, we’re not going to blitz these races, but maximising points every weekend, holding on to second in the Constructor’s Championship, and chasing down Perez… that’s my goal,” he said.

With Mercedes doing their utmost to close down Red Bull, Hamilton said he’s treating it like a rehearsal run for when he gets a car capable of fighting for wins once again.

“I definitely feel like I’m ready to try to prepare myself for when the car is ready to be able to challenge and beat Max,” he said.

“I think, at the moment, the only way currently we could probably do that is just to capitalise on any potential mistakes, which they don’t tend to make. But if they do, I’ll be there.”

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Lewis Hamilton: P2 would be a ‘huge achievement’

With Mercedes having entered the season as the third or fourth-quickest team as Aston Martin had the legs on them early on, while Ferrari and Mercedes traded blows over who was next quickest, the turnaround to bring Mercedes into contention for second in the Constructors’ Championship hasn’t been given enough praise, according to Hamilton.

“I think it’s a huge achievement,” he told media, including PlanetF1.com, on Thursday in Zandvoort.

“It’s something that I feel has been a little bit overlooked, to be honest.

“Only because we want to win, I would say it hasn’t been the most positive narrative. But I’m really proud of the team, the progress, and the steps we have taken with the car from feeling almost identical to last year to making all the changes we have, and there are some small adjustments we are making moving forward over the next couple of races.

“We have some small bits added to the car this weekend. Absolutely every point of downforce, every little bit that we add, makes a difference. So I’m super grateful to everyone back in the factory for continuing to push, even through the hard times and just staying focused, in the belief that we will get there at some point, so just to keep churning away at the good work.

“For us to be second in the Constructors’ Championship is, considering how others have started this year, like how McLaren are doing, the big turnaround Aston who came out of the blocks really great. I think it’s pretty amazing. And it’s down to all these amazing people back in the factory and the crew that we have here.

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