Hamilton gives up on catching Verstappen just one race into F1 season

Lewis Hamilton on difficult season for Mercedes in November

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Lewis Hamilton appears to have already admitted defeat in his bid for a record eighth F1 world title win after just one race. After a disappointing 2022 season saw him finish sixth after failing to win a single Grand Prix, Hamilton believes he will once again be unable to mount a title challenge this year. 

The Brit finished fifth in the opening race of the season in Bahrain, while rival Max Verstappen led a Red Bull 1-2 to get his title defence off to a perfect start.

Hamilton has admitted he knew Mercedes were in for a difficult year the first time he saw their new car and, while he is hopeful they will be able to “close the gap” at some point this season he acknowledges it will “probably be too late in terms of fighting for a championship”.

Ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Hamilton said: “I will win again. It’s just going to take some time. [We knew] we probably wouldn’t hit the ground straightaway at the front, but we thought should be there or thereabouts, so it was a bit of a shock when that wasn’t the case.

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“I knew that we weren’t in the right place when we saw the car for the first time, it looked so different to that of our competitors. It’s always nerve-wracking in that moment.

“The proof is in the pudding, we’ve seen where the performance is and how people are extracting the performance and we’ve got to now start making some bold decisions, some big moves in order to close the gap to these guys [Red Bull] otherwise they will run away with it probably this year unless Ferrari stop them.

“We’ll wait and see. Hopefully at some point during the year we’re hopeful we might be able to close the gap but at that point it will probably be too late in terms of fighting for a championship but we can still turn some heads hopefully.”

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Hamilton has also shut down suggestions he could leave Mercedes as a result of their recent struggles to compete with Red Bull, insisting he has “100 per cent belief” in his team. “Of course, there are times you’re not in agreement with certain team members but what’s important is we continue to communicate, we continue to pull together,” he added.

“I still have 100 percent belief in this team. It is my family and I’ve been here a long time so I don’t plan on going anywhere else. We all need a kick, we all need to get on.”

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