After winning fourth consecutive pole position, Lewis Hamilton could be forgiven for feeling a little disappointed at only narrowly managing to hold on to a podium finish in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday.

But Hamilton himself admitted that he'd always been realistic about the situation coming into the weekend, and that the pole had been slightly flattering the Mercedes' form on the first race back after F1's summer holidays.

"I don't think we generally have the same pace as these guys, or at least, not necessarily the Ferraris but more so the Red Bulls," he said after the race. "They were both too fast for us today. It's the best we could have done. Yesterday, the weather helped us to get up to where we were.

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"I'm really happy with the results. I'm happy with the result we had," he added. "I'm glad to see so many great fans here this weekend. They made the weekend."

But Hamilton admitted that it had hardly been the most exhilarating of races, even from inside the cockpit. "It was not particularly exciting or anything," he agreed. "It was pretty straightforward.

The key moment of the race for Hamilton came when he was unable to fend off Sebastian Vettel down the Kemmel straight on the first lap and was easily passed for the lead., which effectively decided the race result on the spot.

"Half-decent start and I felt like I got a good exit out of turn one," he recalled. "Sebastian just caught me massively, particularly through Eau Rouge. There was no defending really. I could only move once, so I moved once and just had to watch him glide by.

"After that it was very, very difficult to hold onto him," he said, before adding that he'd faced much the same situation minutes later when Fernando Alonso's Ferrari briefly loomed in his rear view mirrors. "When Fernando came by, particularly down the straights, he was just pulling away."

But that power imbalance between the Mercedes and his chief rivals was much as Hamilton had expected heading into Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix after the month-long August break.

"I came in this weekend and when we started I felt that we perhaps didn't have as good a package as these two here," Hamilton admitted. "I think every year you come here - here and Monza - you come with a new package, new front and particularly rear wing and sometimes you hit the nail on the head and sometimes you don't.

"I think we've done a decent job but obviously these guys have done a slightly better job," he added. "Whether or not we can make an adjustment before the next race, we'll wait and see but I think more importantly we'll be back to being very competitive - or more competitive when we get to Singapore.

"I think we'll go away after this weekend, we'll try and see if we can improve for Monza. But definitely when we get to Singapore, I think we'll have a much better chance there."

Finishing on the podium for the 54th time in his F1 career equals a statistic set by Mercedes boss Niki Lauda during his own racing career.

"Of course to be put in the same sentence as someone as legendary as Niki is a real privilege," said Hamilton when it was pointed out to him after the race, clearly already looking forward to Monza in two weeks time when he will be aiming to put Lauda's podium tally in his rear view mirror - and hopefully with win.