Hamilton 'would have struggled' to hold off Vettel

Sebastian Vettel in action for Ferrari

Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel prepares to take part in a free practice session ahead of the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit in Mogyorod near Budapest, Hungary, on Sunday.

He dropped a place at the start to teammate Sebastian Vettel but said beating race victor Lewis Hamilton was always going to be tough after Mercedes outqualified Ferrari on Saturday.

The start was a good one for Hamilton, who launched from the first place, while Valterri Bottas (Finland, Mercedes) passed Kimi Raikkonnen.

There is still plenty of work to do if he is to break that streak, even if Hamilton is well ahead of where he was this time past year when he went into the August shutdown 14 points adrift of Vettel. This essentially handed Mercedes a 1-2 on the starting grid, with Valtteri Bottas alongside Hamilton. But I was next to him on the inside. I tried to defend the best I could, as aggressive as I could, but it just ended up being a bit of a mess in the end with the broken front wing and everything'.

"His tyres were getting worse and worse and I was quite confident I could get him". Bottas' longer second stint had hampered his own race prospects but prevented Vettel from attacking Hamilton with a significant tyre advantage, which provd to be decisive in the outcome of the race.

Bottas, who lost part of his front wing, dropped to fifth after a late collision with Daniel Ricciardo, who overtook the Finn on the final lap in his second shot at the wounded Mercedes auto. I think in the dry, we were pretty much in control.

Raikkonen said Ferrari needed to improve and "tidy up" a few things to ensure it maximises the speed of its 2018 package, which has been quicker than Mercedes two weekends in a row but failed to turn that into victory.

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Renault's Nico Hulkenberg stopped on track with an engine problem and missed the last half hour of that early session.

Bottas added that he wanted to discuss his perceived role as a "wingman" in the team, or as a driver to be used tactically to help Hamilton's bid for a fifth world title.

After the race in Hungary, Hamilton said Mercedes held the lead of the title race because, even if Ferrari had the quicker auto, the Silver Arrows had "operated better and been better on strategy". The Mercedes locked up and speared the Red Bull.

"We couldn't have expected this..."

"We came here knowing that the Ferraris would be real quick this weekend", he said. Fair enough, I think a racing incident. Still, 20 laps before the end, I was feeling ok.

Speaking to Sky F1, Vettel added: "l am confident that if we have a auto to fight with we can put them under pressure and make things happen in the second half".

"We know that consistency is the key, scoring points, and I did myself no favours last week", said Vettel.

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