Lewis Hamilton reckons Mercedes understanding the car better from start of F1 2021 to now has helped them as Max Verstappen admits more points gap at this stage would have been better.

It was certainly an inconsistent start of the 2021 F1 season for Mercedes and Hamilton as at every given point, Red Bull and Verstappen were able to eke out an advantage at the top. The former duo though could bounce back to keep it a close fight.

In fact, due to the results of their teammates, Mercedes managed to have a stronger advantage on the constructors’ side but a retirement for Valtteri Bottas helped Red Bull to be just five points behind them with two races remaining in the 2021 F1 season.

On the drivers’ side but, Hamilton closed to Verstappen in the last couple of races to be only eight points behind and looking ever dangerous. Despite those engine penalties, Mercedes seemingly has the momentum going into Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton reckons that the team managed to understand the car better as the season progressed and so could put in the fixes in place to feel much stronger. “I think we just, as the year’s gone on, we’ve understood the car more, we’ve definitely been able to squeeze more performance out of the package without bringing any upgrades,” he said.

“We’ve not had an upgrade since Silverstone, so it’s quite phenomenal to see the small bits… the increments that we’ve been improving. I think it’s very close between the two cars, clearly, so I think that lines us up for a great battle but yeah, in these last two, I think we’ve just been able to do a better job overall. I hope that we can take this form into those next two.

“I feel great [too]/ I feel in the best shape physically that I’ve been in all year. So just feel… obviously at the beginning, not particularly that well, so yeah, I feel great, the car is feeling better than ever, and I feel positive going into these next couple of races. I think they should be quite good for our car, so I’m looking forward to that battle,” summed up Hamilton.

While the Brit certainly seems pumped up, Verstappen is not far behind in that mindset, especially being calm amid a heated fight. But the Dutchman does admit that a larger gap to Hamilton would have been much nicer considering the types of tracks coming up.

“It’s exciting,” said Verstappen. “I would of course have liked to make it a bigger gap, but when you don’t have the pace, it’s impossible to do that, so we’ll just try to be better, and come back strong, especially in Saudi on the street track, and then yeah, we’ll see in Abu Dhabi.”

Here’s Toto Wolff and Christian Horner on high stakes

Here’s Honda on Mercedes’ reliability issues

Here’s the whole F1 drivers’ briefing chat

Here’s Christian Horner, Michael Masi, Toto Wolff on yellow flag situation