Lewis Hamilton admitted title rivals Red Bull are “too quick right now” after letting the lead slip late on at the French Grand Prix.
Mercedes’ Hamilton was passed by Max Verstappen, who had fresher tyres, with two laps to go at Paul Ricard.
The victory is Red Bull’s third in a row and took Verstappen 12 points ahead of defending champion Hamilton in the drivers’ standings.
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“There are lots of positives to take from today, so I’m not seeing it as a tough day,” Hamilton told Sky Sports.
“I did everything I could out there and didn’t really make any mistakes and I’m generally happy with the position and results. It would have been nice to win but those guys are just too quick now.
“They have taken a big step this weekend, we are losing 0.35sec just on the straights. They have made some sort of improvement and we’ve just got to figure out whether it’s rear wing or engine. Either way, we have to improve.
“We are going to the next two races [both in Austria] where straight-line speed will be important, so it’s going to be tough.”
After starting second on the grid, Hamilton had taken the lead of the French Grand Prix after passing Verstappen on the first corner.
But Red Bull’s two-stop strategy gave Verstappen the edge and he eventually got the better of his title rival.
“If Max hadn’t have made a mistake at the beginning then the result would have been the same,” said Hamilton.
“The only reason we had the position was because Max made a mistake. I managed to just stay ahead but, like I said, we are quite slow in a straight line.
“Ultimately, in the end, they [Red Bull] stopped again before us so there was no reason for us to stop ourselves. We just had to try to hold on and see if we could stay out in front. Unfortunately, it didn’t work.”
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