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Hamilton: Title war not over

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 02-06-2017

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Lewis Hamilton has insisted "the war is not over" in his battle with Sebastian Vettel for the F1 Drivers' Championship. 

Vettel's victory in the Monaco GP on Sunday extended his lead over Hamilton in the championship race to 25 points - the equivalent of a race victory.

Three-time world champion Hamilton suffered a woeful weekend in Monte Carlo, being knocked out of Qualifying in Q2 and starting 13th on the grid, before complaining that his car was "all over the place" in the race as he finished seventh.

But Hamilton remains adamant he can still win this year's championship despite Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitting his team are now "the underdogs" against Ferrari.

"The war is not over. It's a marathon not a sprint," Hamilton told Sky Sports News HQ.

"We can take it on the chin and move forward. The car was still a real handful and not where it should be. A lot of analysis will go into it over the next two weeks."

Wolff conceded to Sky F1 that Mercedes had "to get on top of things" ahead of F1 arriving in Montreal for the Canadian GP next week.

"Our car was not quick enough this weekend. We were caught off guard on Thursday afternoon and could never recover," he said.

"The tyres were not in the window and then they were in the window, then not in the window. Even in the race we had the same patterns and at one stage Lewis was suddenly really fast. We have a lot to understand.

"I think we have a very quick car capable of winning races and championships but she is a difficult lady."

Speaking later, Wolff added: "We have a fast car but she doesn't like the tyres. We need to understand why that is because Ferrari are able to put their car on the floor and it goes from the beginning until the end.

"I like the notion of underdog because the underdog is obviously the one people want to see win. As a matter of fact, I think we have been that since the beginning of the season. We have been dropping in and out of the tyre window. We never had two drivers or two cars over the whole course of a weekend within that window.

"We have seen an exceptional performance of Valtteri in Sochi which we were not able to replicate on Lewis' car, we have seen an exceptional performance of Lewis in Barcelona and that inconsistency has been following us through the season.

"On the opposite side, Ferrari put the car on the track in Barcelona and were quick from the get go, so yes, we are the underdog, yes we need to catch up. This is the reality of it at the moment.

"We're not seeking excuses because others are able to extract the performance of the tyres and we don't. You have seen how Red Bull have been far out of the window, one-and-a-half seconds off the pace and then back in the race performing well. It's a problem that appears to hit everybody, but not Ferrari. All credit to them, they have put a solid car on the track and they are able to cope with the tyres."

But Sky F1's Martin Brundle believes the championship is now Vettel's to lose and Mercedes need a major update to challenge the Ferrari.

Brundle described the Mercedes car as a "wild horse" on Saturday as both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas battled to keep it out of the barriers and says the Brackley-based outfit need to find a fix quickly.

"They've got to find something on the Mercedes," Brundle said. "They need an update that really straightens that car up.

"I think this is Vettel's championship to lose now."

While Mercedes and Ferrari have now shared three victories each in the opening six races, the reigning world champions have found their 2017 car more difficult to set-up than its dominant title-winning predecessors.

"Whatever tools they throw at it, Mercedes don't really understand it at the moment whereas Ferrari can," Sky F1's Paul di Resta added.

"They can predict what's going to happen, are very versatile with the tyre pressures and ultimately at the front."

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