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Hamilton fired up by battle for P2 in constructors’ as Ferrari close in on Mercedes

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Lewis Hamilton says he’s excited about the multi-team battle for second in the constructors’ championship with Mercedes laser-focused on coming out on top.

The Silver Arrows have failed to deliver a genuine challenge to reigning world champions Red Bull this season – but after a slow start to the campaign, they’ve shown an improved turn of pace, mostly recently in Singapore where they had a shot at victory with Ferrari and McLaren.

READ MORE: ‘What they’ve done this year is impressive’ – Verstappen names key threat for Red Bull in Suzuka

They currently sit second in the standings on 289 points, 24 clear of Ferrari with early frontrunners for P2 Aston Martin another 48 further adrift with seven Grands Prix and three Sprint events still to go.

“I think it’s exciting that we have this battle at the moment,” said Hamilton on Thursday at Suzuka. “We started off pretty poorly at the beginning of the season.

2023 Singapore Grand Prix: The frantic final laps as Sainz battles to hold off Norris, Russell and Hamilton

“We definitely didn’t expect to be second in the constructors’, and to now be relatively close, particularly in the last couple of races – well the last race – and be fighting in the constructors’, it’s exciting for us as a team.

“Of course, we want to beat them [Ferrari], just as they want to beat us. It’s going to take a full team effort, that’s for sure.”

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Their fight will likely be for the lower end of the podium rather than the win this weekend, though, reckons Hamilton, the Briton suggesting Red Bull will be back to their dominant best on Suzuka’s sweeping turns.

“I would think that if they're not 30 seconds ahead like they have been in the past, then something’s up,” said Hamilton. ”As Checo [Perez] said, it was obviously a difficult weekend in the last one, but that car should be phenomenal here. They’ve been phenomenal all year long. They’ve aced pretty much every circuit.

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Hamilton is a five-time winner in Japan, behind only Michael Schumacher (6) in the all-time list

“It’s going to be great to watch that car in general. Normally you would come here and it’s beautiful to watch the laps that they do. The whole team and the drivers are doing an amazing job with the package they have.

“It’ll be interesting to see how the weekend goes. I hope we’ll be closer, and I hope they’re not as fast as the 30-second gap.”

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His team mate George Russell, who crashed out of third on the final lap in Singapore when fighting to get by Lando Norris, reckons Mercedes will be right in the mix come race day.

“We’ve got a good chance on Sunday,” he said. “Ferrari will be quick in qualifying. Lando is potentially one of the favourites with their high-speed performance in the McLaren, but all the question marks are on Red Bull.”

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