Lewis Hamilton returns from the summer break as the leader of the Drivers’ Championship by 8 points from Max Verstappen as he seeks a record-breaking eighth title come the end of 2021.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, the seven-time World Champion believes his Mercedes team has outperformed Red Bull over the course of the first eleven events.
"I think we've definitely upped our game," said Hamilton to Sky Sports F1.
"I would say we've outperformed them as a team, collectively. It's difficult to say we've got a faster car.
"We've definitely improved our car; we had that one upgrade [at Silverstone] but it wasn't a huge upgrade.
"In terms of processes, in terms of how we go about operating the car and operating over a weekend has improved, and I think we've just delivered a better performance."
Hamilton looked unwell on the podium after the Hungarian Grand Prix and was attended to by a Mercedes team doctor after the race, citing the effects of long covid when he spoke in the press conference.
However, the Brit feels in better shape as the second half of 2021 kicks off at Spa-Francorchamps.
"I have spent time over this period just trying to make sure I am in the best shape," said Hamilton.
"I do feel like I am in better shape moving into the second half of the season so it is not a concern for me.
"The break was definitely much needed but it felt too long at the end. I was definitely excited to get back to work and missed working with the team and missed being in the car."
In the last two races, Hamilton has overturned a 33-point deficit into an 8-point lead over title rival Max Verstappen.
Nonetheless, the 36-year-old expects the challenge to be tough as Red Bull throw everything at Mercedes to try and become the first team to defeat the Brackley-based team in the turbo-hybrid era.
"We knew how quick they would be at the beginning, we've obviously seen the speed and the competitiveness of them in the past," Hamilton said. "Of course as we got through the season, they've got stronger and stronger and it's been harder for us as we've gone on. We've had a bit of a difficult patch.
"But we've got back to where, in terms of operating, we have in the past, and I think to a good place. But it's going to be close, it's going to be tough - the second half of the season.