Lewis Hamilton said he felt back to his best for the first time in over a year this weekend but doesn’t believe he could have finished second in Hungary.
“I haven’t been at my best for over a year,” said Hamilton. “So I think yesterday felt like I was back to being my best.”
Hamilton lost his lead to Max Verstappen immediately after the start. He was also passed by the two McLaren drivers, which left him fourth.
Although Hamilton regained one place from Oscar Piastri, he was unable to prevent Sergio Perez getting past him, and missed out on a podium finish as a result.
He said the team’s pre-race strategy briefing indicated they would not be quick enough to beat Red Bull, and the race showed McLaren were too fast for them as well.
“I think it’s obvious that we’re not the quickest,” he said. “We don’t have the quickest car and I’m really proud of myself and the job that we did yesterday to get pole position, to outperform the world champion and the other two cars that were quicker than us.
“Today, it’s reality. The reality is we’re not fast enough. They already told me in strategy this morning I would be at least five tenths [per lap] slower than the Red Bull. So the fight’s not with Max but [we were] hoping that we could fight the McLarens, but the second McLaren was too quick for us also.”
Losing three places at the start hurt his chances of finishing on the podium, Hamilton admitted. “I think we may have been able to finish third with a slightly better start, but fourth is still okay,” he said. “Max got a better start than me. I just got a bit of wheelspin and a bit compromised after that.”
He found his car performed better towards the end of the race, but fell short of catching Perez by one-and-a-half seconds.
“We were just too slow in the first two stints,” said Hamilton. “The balance was not good, the car was just slow. Then the balance picked up a lot at the end, and all of a sudden I was able to apply the pressure, but it was too late.”
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2023 Hungarian Grand Prix
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