Hamilton optimistic upgrades will help cut gap to Red Bull

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Three straight Formula One wins have helped Max Verstappen open up a 32-point lead over Hamilton in the drivers’ championship, while Red Bull are 44 clear in the constructors’ standings.

Having finished fourth in Austria, Hamilton is bidding to avoid finishing two consecutive races outside the podium for the first time since 2017.

Toto Wolff’s outfit are winless in their past five GPs, their worst run in the hybrid era (since 2014) and as many races without finishing first as in their previous 17.

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But the seven-time world champion now has hope for his home event.

“There’s a lot of changes on the car,” Hamilton told reporters.

“It is not a massive update in terms of the gap that we have seen in the races, but it definitely helps us in terms of closing that gap quickly,

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“Massively looking forward to it. A lot of work has gone on over the past couple of weeks.

“So, I’m hoping that coming back to a circuit that suits us a little bit better and hopefully bodes well for a closer battle at least with the Red Bulls.”

The home support he will receive and the new race weekend format – with points available in a Saturday sprint race that will also determine the grid for Sunday – means Hamilton is hopeful he can reduce Verstappen’s lead.

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There will be two practice sessions – with only one on Friday before qualifying for the sprint race will also take place – rather than the usual three.

That means it could be harder to judge the gaps between cars in the pecking order prior to the competitive action.

“Another element is this sprint race that we have: this new format,” said Hamilton. “Of course, it’s easy for any of us to get it wrong but there’s opportunities there, which is exciting.

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“There’s always talk of the energy and the buzz that the fans bring, and without doubt when it’s your home grand prix and the British crowd, you come with more.

“So, I’m hoping that all of those [elements] together close that nice gap those guys [Red Bull] have grown out in terms of performance, and enables us to take it to them this weekend.

“With all those elements I hope and pray, yes, that [cutting Verstappen’s lead] is the case.”

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Hamilton is enthused by the return of a sell-out crowd to Silverstone.

He added: “Ever since the first time I came and raced here in 2006, but particularly in Formula 1 – 2007 – the roar of the crowd here is unlike anywhere else.

“Considering we’ve had a drought in terms of fans not being at the races in the past year, the energy has definitely been very much missed.”

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Red Bull are also expecting a closer battle than has been seen in the previous races.

Verstappen said: “We are very focused. They are bringing upgrades, so naturally I think if they work, they [will be] closer.

“Of course, we’ve been happy with the last few races, but we always look at things we could do better and that’s what we’ll try and do this weekend again.”

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