Lewis Hamilton has called on Mercedes to find “some drastic improvements to our straight-line speed” in time for the Italian Grand Prix having suffered against Ferrari at Spa-Francorchamps as the reigning Formula 1 world champion had to settle for second behind Charles Leclerc in the Belgian Grand Prix.

With Leclerc securing an emotional maiden F1 win, 24 hours on from the death of friend and Formula 2 driver Anthonie Hubert, he escaped clear of Hamilton’s late charge and take victory by just under one second at the chequered flag.

But with Mercedes driver suffering for straight-line speed compared to Ferrari all weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, frequently 10kph slower without the advantage of DRS in the Kemmel straight speed trap, Hamilton has warned of similar pain next weekend at the high-speed Monza circuit which hosts the Italian Grand Prix.

And with the tight turnaround for the Italian round, running back-to-back with the Belgian race, Hamilton is bracing for another tough race next weekend.

“It’s all straights [Monza], so, it’s going to be a happy weekend most likely for Ferrari in that respect,” Hamilton said. “This weekend we are losing over a second in qualifying, a second per lap, so there is not much me and Valtteri can do in that instance, and there’s not many corners to catch it up.

“In the next few days, we’ve got to make some drastic improvements to our straight speed somehow. I don’t know if it is possible but I think if anyone can do it, it is our team. We will do our best. Position is also everything.

“We’ve got slightly better degradation than them, so maybe, and it is a longer race so hopefully we can have another close race like we’ve had this weekend.”

Having lost to Ferrari for a second consecutive year in Belgium, Hamilton has also called on Mercedes to learn from its mistakes and attack the races after the summer break stronger.

“In hindsight we will probably work harder to make sure that when we come back around next year we start on the right foot,” he said. “Hopefully next week will just start off on the right foot and be a smoother weekend.

“From my side obviously, Saturday was not helpful [crashing in FP3], so we’ll try to improve that for the future. We’ve got some improvements to try and make to the car in four days, so there is a lot of pressure.”

Despite his disappointment at missing out on victory at Spa-Francorchamps, Hamilton still extends his F1 championship lead to 65 points with nearest rival and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas finishing third while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen retired after an opening-lap collision with Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen.



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