Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he does not suddenly expect to be challenging Red Bull for victory in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix - unless his McLaren team can find the tweaks it needs in free practice at Spa-Francorchamps.

The Briton, who led the world championship standings until a nightmare weekend for McLaren in Hungary before F1's summer break, insisted that the factory shutdown endured by all twelve teams would not have produced any miracle cure for the blown diffuser system that the Woking squad has yet to perfect.

"I don't think anything's going to change, not immediately," he conceded, "Obviously, we've had the shutdown, so I expect our car to be very much the same as it was in the last race.

"Obviously, this is a good point in time to try and do some more tests whilst we're here on Friday and Saturday, try to get even more information to try and understand where the extra time is and where the extra downforce is. Only once we've done that can we really move forwards.

"I don't think it's restarting again, it's just continuing. These guys are going to be incredibly quick, especially the Red Bulls, and we have to do everything we can to not allow them to pull too far ahead."

Speaking during the break, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh insisted that there was still a lot of performance to be unlocked in the MP4-25, and Hamilton admitted that, while he was continually being impressed by the car, he shared the view that there was more to come.

"I think, for me, every time I have gone to the track, my comments are always 'this is the best the car has ever felt over these years at this track, but it is still not quick enough compared to others'," he claimed, "But we believe there is still some untapped downforce in the car which we have not been able to use - or at least draw out - so we are working very hard.

"The team are working flat out as always to try and pull that out. I am trying to do everything I can to encourage [them], and paying very close attention to what is going on, keeping a close eye on everything."

"I think we should be a little bit better here than we were in Hungary. I think [downforce] is still important [as] there are a lot of high-speed corners here, [and] you still need quite efficient downforce, especially with the long straights. But I am looking forward to getting into the car tomorrow. I only hope the weather does clear up for us as it doesn't look so great out there at the moment."


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