Lewis Hamilton 'fighting and chasing' to help Mercedes find 2021 gains in F1 fight against Red Bull
"Just giving it everything and trying to collaborate with the team as much as possible, trying to see if we can eek out as much performance," says Hamilton, who is 18 points behind Verstappen in F1's title fight heading into this weekend's Austrian GP.
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 02/07/21 9:54am
Lewis Hamilton says he is "fighting and chasing for this title" as Mercedes look to make the gains required to peg back Max Verstappen and Red Bull.
An unprecedented four wins on the bounce for a team other than Mercedes in the eight-season hybrid-turbo era means Hamilton and Mercedes are playing catch up heading into this weekend's second race in a row at the Red Bull Ring.
"They have done a great job in these last four races," said Hamilton, who trails Verstappen by 18 points in the championship.
"It has been really difficult for us from Monaco, which obviously was a bit of a disaster, same for Baku, better in France and better last weekend. However, they have taken a step ahead of us.
"So we're just working as hard as we can to see if there is a way we can close that gap."
Despite Red Bull's sequence of wins, Verstappen's current advantage of 18 points is the equivalent of a single second-place finish.
And Hamilton declared: "We're not even halfway through the season so I'm still fighting and chasing for this title."
Underlining his determination to win a record eighth world crown this year, and despite not having a liking of simulator driving, Hamilton has spent time at Mercedes' simulator in the UK between legs of F1's current triple header to try and help the drive for extra performance.
"Just giving it everything and trying to collaborate with the team as much as possible, trying to see if we can eek out as much performance," Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.
"It's hard to do in the short term, but over the rest of the course of the season."
Hamilton, who last went five races without a win in the same season in 2016, also said that he would not allow himself to get into a "negative bubble" about the championship situation.
Hamilton: 2021's rule changes 'starting to really harm us'
With huge technical rule changes arriving into F1 for 2022, all teams are having to balance development work on this year's cars with preparing for next year's overhaul and make decisions on how much development time
While Red Bull have been introducing more regular updates to their car, Mercedes strategy director James Vowles said in the team's race debrief video this week that there were "a number of ways that we can improve" the W12, with aerodynamic upgrades among them.
The world champions, winners of three of the opening four races but none since, are also confident their car will inherently be more suited to other tracks.
Hamilton says he has faith in the team's plans and believes that the downforce-cutting rule changes at the rear of the car for 2021, which Mercedes believe compromised their low-rake design philosophy more, are really starting to bite.
"Ultimately, I trust in the team," he told Sky F1. "I'm sure the team perhaps didn't anticipate that they would make such a big step because I would say we've not been able to necessarily make as big a step.
"We do know that this year this floor adjustment that was made, we lost a lot more downforce than they did. So we've been working at a loss all year and I think we have done pretty well, but it's starting to really harm us.
"We've got to try and figure out ways around it. Because they run such a high [rake] car it means they have had to remove less furniture from the inside of their rear wheels, so they just have more downforce than us. It makes it a little bit difficult. Not only that, they seem to have more power this year than we do so, overall, we've got work to do."