Hamilton: F1 title task is as steep as it can be

The task of overhauling Max Verstappen to win a record eighth F1 title feels “as steep as it can be” with four races remaining, says Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton trails Max Verstappen by 19 points.   -  Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton said the task of overhauling Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to win a record eighth Formula One title felt “as steep as it can be” with four races remaining and 19 points between them.

The 36-year-old Mercedes driver has five wins to his Dutch rival’s nine this season, with Verstappen chasing his third in a row in Brazil this weekend. Asked on Thursday whether he felt Sunday’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix was a “must-win,” the Briton replied that “every race is a must-win race.”

Brazil is expected to favour the Red Bull more than Mercedes, with Verstappen the most recent winner there in 2019 and before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of last year’s race.

‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’

“They’ve had a strong car all year, they’ve had the strongest car,” said Hamilton. “I think we’ve done as good as we could.

 

“Last time here they were incredibly strong so we’re anticipating again they’ll be very hard to beat this weekend. But where there’s a will there’s a way, hopefully.”

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The Brazilian round will also be third and final sprint event of the season, with qualifying on Friday for a 100km race on Saturday that decides the starting grid for Sunday’s main Grand Prix. More points are available, with three for the winner on Saturday.

Hamilton said that would be of no benefit if Red Bull was quicker, and anti-clockwise Interlagos was one of the hardest layouts to overtake on.

There has also been speculation that Hamilton could need a new engine, which would trigger a five-place grid drop and further damage his title hopes. “I can’t really comment at the moment. I don’t think the engines have even arrived this morning,” he said, referring to delays in the freight arriving from Mexico. “As far as I know, my engine’s fine. But I’ll find out later on.”

F1 constructors' title is most important

Hamilton said he was determined to deliver an eighth successive constructors' championship for Mercedes if he can't clinch his own record eighth drivers' crown this season.

"I've just realised we're only one point ahead in the constructors' championship and that's the most important one, really," Hamilton told Sky Sports television at Interlagos.

"I want to win the drivers' championship, of course. But the team one is so important, for the funding you get for the development, for all the people who are working back at the factory.

"It's not just about one person, it's about all of those. When it comes to team mates working together, that's the one we really need to work together for to come out on top."

Red Bull has whittled away Mercedes' lead in the standings, with Verstappen and his Mexican team mate Sergio Perez both on the podium in Mexico City last weekend.

Verstappen has won the last two races and is chasing his 10th win of the season, to Hamilton's five so far.

"Winning at least one of the championships is key," said Hamilton.

"If we can't get the drivers' championship, I at least want to deliver for the team and get the constructors, so that's what I'm working towards. But it's just hard."

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