Lewis Hamilton has conceded his chances of winning a race this season have gone. The seven-times champion’s unique Formula One record of taking at least one victory every season since he made his debut in 2007 is likely to come to an end this year with only three races remaining and Hamilton admitting his Mercedes team cannot match the frontrunners Red Bull.
At the US Grand Prix on Sunday Hamilton led the race in the final third in what was his best shot at a win this season. Having started from third on the grid, he took the lead after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen suffered a disastrous pit stop with a wheel gun problem that left him stationary for 11 seconds. Verstappen then had to pass the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc to chase down the British driver, who was six seconds in front.
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Hamilton made a determined push to stay ahead but he was caught and passed by Verstappen, in a quicker car and on quicker tyres, seven laps from the flag. Verstappen, already crowned world champion this season, went on to win having demonstrated once more the fearsome pace of the Red Bull.
When asked if he thought he could maintain his record of a win every season, a feat unmatched by any other F1 driver, Hamilton said he believed his best shot had gone.
“We really need to be realistic. The Red Bull car has been the fastest car by far all year and it is still the fastest car,” he said.
“It was great to have started third and been in position to fight but on true pace they’ve been ahead of us all weekend. They were on Sunday and they will be the next three races. So, unless something drastic happens to any more of them, then it’s highly unlikely that we will have the true pace to be able to compete with them.”
The next GP is in Mexico City this weekend on Sunday and is followed by meetings in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Red Bull wrapped up the constructors’ championship in Austin and every indication is that their car will be equally formidable at the final three meetings.
Hamilton pointedly noted what little he could do against Verstappen at the US GP. “He had an 11-second stop, and he was behind Charles, that just shows how much pace they had in hand,” he said. “To have got past Charles and to have caught up six seconds and pulled three seconds ahead of me at least, that shows some serious speed.”
But Hamilton was at least optimistic that after what has been a trying season for Mercedes, his team were in position to be competitive again next season.
“Through the year we’ve made all the mistakes we’ve needed to make to build a stronger foundation for next year,” he said. “So, if we can get that car on par with these guys, I think we could have a really exciting year next year.”