Lewis Hamilton has reiterated his determination to try to secure a win this season and believes he has a shot at this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix. Also, the seven-time champion emphasised once more that his Mercedes team had to produce a strong car next season if they are to challenge Red Bull.
Hamilton has not won a race since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in 2021. Last year was the first in his Formula One career where he failed to take at least one victory and only three races remain this season for him to end a drought of almost two years.
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He and Mercedes are on something of a roll as they go into the Brazilian GP however. He finished just two seconds behind the world champion, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, in the US Grand Prix and followed it by being comfortably the second-quickest driver behind Verstappen at the last round in Mexico.
Mercedes know their car is a fickle beast, often not performing as expected, but they were strong at Interlagos last year where Hamilton’s teammate, George Russell, scored their only win of the season. They are hopeful they will demonstrate similar pace this year and while Hamilton recognised Verstappen still held the upper hand, he was determined to make a contest of it.
“I anticipate Red Bull will blitz it because their car is great,” he said. “But if that is not the case, I will be ready to take the fight to them, and if it can be anything like Austin and we can get our strategy better, then that would be incredible. I came away empty-handed last season. I don’t plan on that this year.”
With Verstappen and Red Bull having already secured the drivers’ and constructors’ titles, Hamilton remains in a close fight for the runners-up place. He trails Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez by 20 points, which if he was to claim would be an extraordinary coup given how far off the pace Mercedes began the season. His team are also in a tight fight for second with Ferrari, leading the Scuderia by 22 points in a battle that may well go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi.
The team have developed their car strongly this year and their last big upgrade to the floor has moved them much nearer to Red Bull, an advance that must be considered with the caveat that Red Bull ceased development on their car some time ago.
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Hamilton was aware that too much could not be read into their late-season surge. “After the last couple of races I have been getting messages from people saying: ‘It is looking good,’” he said. “But I said to them: ‘Well, it was looking good at the end of last year, too, but we started this season 1.5sec behind.’ I am not dazzled by where we are currently. But I am thinking long term at the moment and in the short term, trying to solidify second in the constructors.”
As the preparations for the Brazilian GP were under way F1 addressed concerns that the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix would be cancelled because of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Rumours had been circulating that the race would have to be called off after the Foreign Office updated the terrorism alert level for the UAE.
However, F1 has clarified the alert level change is not related to the Israel-Hamas war but merely places the UAE at the same status as countries such as Germany, France, Belgium and Bahrain. F1 has said the race is at no greater risk of being cancelled and has discussed the situation with the team principals.