Hamilton says the Red Bull RB18 is currently “nearly unbeatable”, and suggests Max Verstappen’s true potential is unclear because the Dutchman too often rides quietly at the front of the grid, without pressure.
He also admitted that Mercedes does not have any updates in the works that would improve the current situation, and that they are already focusing on the 2023 car.
Between Lewis Hamilton and his teammate George Russell, they have achieved three second places and 10 third places throughout the season (13 podiums), and Mercedes sits third in the constructors’ championship, just 35 points behind Ferrari.
However, they are running out of chances to win a race, which would mean the first F1 season without a win for Hamilton.
“We have to be realistic, that Red Bull is almost unbeatable,” said Hamilton after the Italian GP. “It’s going to take some real work to beat that car. Performance wise, they’re completely ahead of everyone else.”
“We haven’t caught up with them, we haven’t got any upgrades to get past them. So we’re going to need luck on our side.”
“And it’s not impossible, because we could have beaten them in Budapest. But he [Verstappen] is usually calm at the front, so you never know his true pace. We’ll see.”
For his part, Mercedes director Toto Wolff said the team could not have done better than the third and fifth places achieved by Russell and Hamilton at Monza, considering that the latter started from the back of the grid. .
“Yes, it’s the best possible result,” he replied when asked by Motorsport.com if that result was the best that could be achieved.
“I think it was quite encouraging to see that at the beginning of the race George was able to hang on well. The most frustrating thing is that we don’t have a car that is capable of fighting for wins, and we are quite a long way off, that’s the reality.”
“In Monza, in the simulator, it wasn’t going to go well for us. So hopefully we can do better in the next few races, and really fight with the top guys.”
“And as for Lewis, it was great to see that once he got out of traffic, he settled into the car well, he was having a perfect race, and I think he would have finished fifth in any case, even without a safety car. So I’m happy about that.”
“But the overall result? From an absolute point of view it was the best we could have done, but relatively it’s not good enough.”
Wolff still believes that Mercedes can win one of the remaining six races.
“I think it would be amazing if we could win a race on our own merits, without any grid penalties,” said the Austrian.
“I think if they had asked us after Spa I would have said it’s impossible, but then afterwards we almost won at Zandvoort. And in Italy it didn’t go well for us.”
“So I think that should be the goal. We don’t want to finish the season without winning any races, even though we are absolutely focused on 2023. It would be a very nice thing for all our people in a difficult season.”
As for the next race, the Singapore GP in three weeks, he said: “I think the circuit layout should suit our car. The bumps don’t.”
“In our simulations we see that it should be one of our best tracks. But I’m trying to stay cautious about any predictions for Singapore.”