LEWIS HAMILTON has insisted Mercedes are capable of catching Red Bull – after a fresh blast at his current car.
The seven-time world champion finished an impressive second in a chaotic Australian Grand Prix.
He and Mercedes team-mate George Russell qualified strongly before overtaking Verstappen on the opening lap to hold a one-two.
However, the race eventually unravelled as Russell's car set ON FIRE on lap 18 and Hamilton was breezed past by the Dutchman, who claimed his first-ever win in Australia.
Following the race, Hamilton praised the efforts of the team back in the Mercedes factory, but described Red Bull as being in "another league".
Speaking to Sky Sports he said: "Firstly a huge thank you to everyone back at the factories. I feel so happy right now and grateful to them for continuing to push.
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"I think we arrived with a car that's been difficult and for us to be finishing on the podium and getting these points is remarkable, especially at this early phase when we have not actually changed the car.
"It's just happened to work this weekend and we have a lot of work to do to catch Red Bull because they came flying past.
"But I hope this really gives us a boost of hope and energy that it's so early on in the season [but] we're there or thereabouts.
"So I hope this is a message to everyone to just dig deep and keep pushing because it's not that far away [and] it's relatively close to reach (a win)."
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Prior to the safety car caused by Alex Albon spinning off, Russell and Hamilton had been keeping Verstappen at bay.
However, Hamilton does not believe his team-mate being there would have been enough to thwart Verstappen's efforts to win the race.
He added: "Max is in another league, his car is so fast.
"I mean he passed me halfway down the straight and he was several metres ahead.
"Like I don't know how they’re so quick on the straight, it's insane.
"They're in another league and until we pick up speed on straight and have the crazy downforce they have through the corners we won’t be near."
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