Hamilton and Verstappen staged one of the most intense title battles in F1 history last year, ending with a controversial finish in favor of the Red Bull driver on the final lap of the final race in Abu Dhabi.
Despite doubts about reliability at the beginning of the year, which even led him to ensure that he could no longer think about the title, Verstappen has ended up being the absolute dominator of the season, winning 12 of the 18 races held to date and becoming champion at the Suzuka circuit with four tests to go.
Hamilton , on the other hand, has had a difficult season at the wheel of the Mercedes W13 following the regulatory change imposed this year and has yet to climb to the top of the podium, his best results being two second places achieved in France and Hungary .
Despite their heated battle in 2021, Hamilton assessed Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s 2022 course by speaking to Sky Sports after the Japanese GP, where he finished in fifth position.
“Red Bull have obviously done an amazing job with the car this year. Big congratulations to the whole team, and to Max,” said the seven-time F1 world champion.
Lewis Hamilton also took the opportunity to make it clear that he hopes to return to the fight next year: “I think we know what the problems with this car are. I think that, as a team, we have not gone from being world champions to not being able to manufacture “A good car. I have no doubt that we will make a better car next year. Whether or not we rectify the problems this year, we will know when we get to that point.”
“Yes, we had some problems with the car this year. But next season, I am confident that we will rectify the situation and be back in contention for the title.”
Hamilton was one of the drivers who pushed hard for the race to resume during the long red-flag break in Japan.
“The track conditions were amazing when we started the race again. That’s what motorsport is all about, it was really great and I had a lot of fun,” he told the media.
“Of course the visibility was very bad and it was very difficult to control the car as it was constantly skidding. But the timing of the race was excellent.”
As for his race at Suzuka, Hamilton spent much of the shortened Grand Prix battling to overtake Ocon ‘s Alpine, which he ultimately failed to do.
“I’m not frustrated. It was a sprint race. I did my best and I’m glad we at least got some points today.”
“We were just very slow down the straight. I got as close as I could [to Esteban Ocon], but as soon as he picked up, he moved away. I wish it had been a longer race. I’m glad we got some laps in for the guys.” fans, although it has not been a great race for them considering the time they have waited,” he concluded.
With four races remaining, Hamilton is sixth in the 2022 F1 Drivers’ World Championship, and is in a bit of a no man’s land, as he is 22 points behind Carlos Sainz (fifth) and 79 points ahead of Lando Norris. (eighth).