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'We CAN close that gap!' – Hamilton in defiant mood after P2 finish in Melbourne

'We CAN close that gap!' – Hamilton in defiant mood after P2 finish in Melbourne

'We CAN close that gap!' – Hamilton in defiant mood after P2 finish in Melbourne

'We CAN close that gap!' – Hamilton in defiant mood after P2 finish in Melbourne

Lewis Hamilton reinvigorated his season with a P2 finish at the Australian Grand Prix and insists he now believes Red Bull can be caught.

Mercedes have made a slow start to 2023, but had a much-improved performance in Melbourne this weekend with both drivers starting the race in the top three, and were one-two after the third corner, although George Russell retired with an engine problem later in the race.

Hamilton managed his tyres remarkably well to keep the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso at bay, and is finally starting to enjoy the season.

The seven-time world champion said: “It was [a crazy race] I’ve had the best week here. I definitely didn’t expect to be second so I’m super grateful for it.”

Connection with W14 still missing

Despite showing pace throughout the weekend, however, Hamilton still isn’t feeling at one with the troublesome W14.

“I still feel uncomfortable in the car,” said Hamilton. “I don’t feel connected to it, so I’m driving as best as I can with that disconnect and I’m working as hard as I can to try and create that connection, but it’s a long project.”

Tyre degradation has been cause for concern for Mercedes so far in 2023, so Hamilton was pleased with how he managed to take care of his rubber while maintaining second place.

“I definitely wasn’t bluffing [about being concerned about tyre life]. Honestly, I was having to push a lot to at the beginning keep Max behind, and then Fernando was pushing and they’re very very quick,” said Hamilton.

“I think ultimately he [Alonso] was a bit quicker today behind me but I just managed to hold him off.

“Considering we’ve been down on performance and down on straight [line] pace compared to the Red Bulls, for us to be up here fighting with Aston is just amazing at this point in the season.”

Contrasting emotions for George

After adding a P2 to fifth-place finishes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Hamilton is now clear of his team-mate in P4 of the drivers’ championship, but felt for his teammate who retired from the race with a power unit issue which left the car in flames at the pit lane exit.

“It’s really unlucky for George today," said the veteran driver. "Our reliability’s generally been really good so that’s really unfortunate, but otherwise to get those points it’s really amazing today."

Hamilton continued: “We’ve just got to keep on fighting. A big big thank you to all the people back at the factory. Let’s keep pushing. We can close that gap. It’s going to tough but it’s not impossible.”

A throwback podium

Hamilton finished his post-race interview with a nostalgic feel, referencing champions sharing the podium.

“And also, we had three world champions in the top three. That’s pretty mega,” he concluded.

It was indeed the first time that three world champions shared the same podium since Hamilton himself was joined by Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel on the famous steps at the 2018 Hungarian Grand Prix.

READ MORE: Verstappen wins Australian Grand Prix overshadowed by controversial red flag debacle

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