Lewis Hamilton said “every race is a win” and his title battle with Max Verstappen was coming to an end.
Hamilton Verstappen has less than 19 points ahead of this weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix, as well as the top 107 in the other four races.
He said, “Their speed was great in the last race, they had the strongest car of the year, they had the strongest car. You see.”
And the task of restoring Verstappen is “as high as possible,” he said.
Verstappen has won the last two games for Red Bull, USA, and Mexico, as well as four wins in seven games since the break, and nine of 18 have come this year.
Hamilton has only won once in their last eight matches. The seven-time world champion said he expects Red Bull to enter the historic Interlagos circuit this weekend, while Verstappen wins the last event of 2019, as favorites.
“Last season here, they were very strong,” Hamilton said. “I also hope they are hard to beat.”
Regarding his time with Mercedes overall, Hamilton said: “We did the best we could. We worked as hard as we could.”
Verstappen said he “100%” expects Mercedes to compete for more this week than they did in Mexico, insisting he would have no trouble speculating on the competition.
“If you don’t mind, you don’t have a dream or anything,” Verstappen said.
“I’m very focused. A lot can happen in four races. We are good but things can change very quickly.
“I had a great final in the competition. It fell on the second weekend. We will do our best. The way I live every weekend is the same.”
Last sprint for 2021
The Sao Paulo Grand Prix is the latest of three events to run in a modern “sprint” style.
Eligibility runs from Saturday to Friday to set the grid for Saturday’s sprint event, the competition was a third shorter than the long road set for Sunday’s main event.
There are points for the top three in the sprint – three for the winner, two for the second – and one for the third – but Hamilton says the rest of the weekend’s performance is two.
“Running doesn’t play with your hands if they run,” he says. “We have to focus on trying to get the car in the right [repaired] window, which is not easy.
“It’s not a good way to cross, but close to one of the hardest places to cross, at the end of one of the hardest places of the year.”
Teams have agreed to F1’s rule that the number of sprint events next year will be doubled to six.
Officials are considering possible changes to the system, including paying more attention to sprints and ensuring that the winner’s name is on the tree level as the fastest qualifying racer rather than the sprint winner.
Finally, F1 and several other groups support full sprint splits, meaning Friday passes to the net for the big Prix and rebrands the competitive position as the sprint grid. But this is not a complete deal to be introduced in 2022.
Tough night for someone
The team faces a race against time to get their cars ready for the first free event party on Friday after a fatal crash en route from last weekend’s tournament in Mexico to Brazil.
Some teams were affected more than others: Ferrari, McLaren, Alfa Romeo, and Haas got their cars in mid-Thursday.
The delay – due to bad weather in Mexico caused by the load from Miami, where another problem arose – should not have stopped the team from running.
The FIA’s governing body has set a return deadline limiting the time members can work overnight to ensure that everything is ready for Friday when the first session will begin at 15:30 GMT (12:30 local time).