SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium -- Lewis Hamilton said Ferrari's power advantage at Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix meant Sebastian Vettel passed him as if he "wasn't there" on the opening lap of the race.
After securing pole position in wet conditions on Saturday, Hamilton had lost the lead by Turn 5 on Sunday as Vettel breezed past him on the Kemmel Straight. Ferrari was outperforming Mercedes on Spa-Francorchamps' long straights all weekend long, highligting concerns Hamilton has had for some time about the relative performance of the two cars' power units.
The Mercedes driver, who still leads the championship by 17 points after finishing second to Vettel on Sunday, said the deficit meant he was unable to defend against Vettel on the opening lap.
"I did everything I could and we ultimately did well, but he drove past me like I was not there," he said. "We have to keep pushing to see what we can do. They have got a few trick things going on in the car, I did what I could, we did what we could so we have to keep working."
Asked to explain what he meant by "trick things" -- and whether he was suggesting Ferrari might be running its car illegally -- Hamilton clarified his position: "I don't know what is on their car so I couldn't tell you either way.
"I'm not saying there is anything illegal. We all have something trick, trick is just something that helps you bring that extra performance, please don't twist my words to say that I say they are doing it illegally because they are not.
"They just outperformed us today and we have to work harder. There are things they have on the car and we have to try and find out what and improve on that."
Hamilton suspects the advantage is coming from Ferrari's hybrid system, giving a boost in performance at certain parts of the track as it works in tandem with the car's V6 turbo engine.
"It's just power they are able to deploy more somehow from us to Eau Rouge and then it carries on the straight and the same down the back straight. I'm not really sure how."