Hamilton: Not the end of the world if Mercedes winless in 2022

By Sports Desk September 28, 2022

Lewis Hamilton is adamant it will not be the "end of the world" if Mercedes fail to a win a race during the 2022 Formula One season.

A sequence of eight-consecutive constructors' championship titles looks set to come to an end this year, with Mercedes sitting 139 points behind Red Bull.

Hamilton is also on course for an unprecedented experience in F1, having never gone a season without a race victory during his time on the grid.

Mercedes' fall from grace has been one of the major stories in the 2022 season, but Hamilton has played down the significance of not topping the podium in the campaign.

"I do not look at it as a dry spell. I feel this year has been a year of growth," he said ahead of Sunday's race in Singapore.

"It has been a good experience for all. There are six races [left] so there's six opportunities and we will try to get a win, but if we do not do well, I do not think it is the end of the world."

Mercedes' focus for the remainder of the season is to assure their second-place finish in the constructors' championship ahead of Ferrari, with six races left before the end of the season.

"We just need to understand the car," Hamilton added. "Our goal is a second placing. Hopefully, in the next six races, we will do well."

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    Hamilton, a seven-time drivers' championship winner, was blighted by car issues with Mercedes last season as he failed to win a race for the first time in his career.

    Red Bull star Verstappen tallied a record-breaking 15 wins to finish 146 points ahead of closest rival Charles Leclerc in a dominant title-winning 2022 campaign.

    But the Dutchman does not envisage a third straight F1 crown coming with such relative ease in 2023.

    "He's been one of the greatest drivers ever in the sport, so for sure if he has the car to do it, he can fight for the title again," Verstappen told Sky Sports of Hamilton.

    He added: "But that's the same for George [Russell], it's the same for Charles, it's the same for Lando [Norris] – if you give them the car that's capable of winning the championship, they can.

    "But it's also about when you have the car then the pressure comes you cannot afford big mistakes.

    "That's a bit of a different pressure you have but I'm confident once these guys get onto a roll like that it is all possible, they all have talent to do so."

    Red Bull cruised to the constructors' championship last year, winning the title for the first time since 2013.

    However, the team have been hit with wind tunnel testing restrictions and CFD limitations after they were judged to have breached financial regulations.

    The full impact of those punishments is unclear but a reduction in time allowed in the wind tunnel could lead Red Bull to fall behind their rivals in aerodynamic developments.

    "You always try to go for it, but I don't know if we're going to be good enough," Verstappen added.

    "Of course as a team we believe we are, we are very motivated, we come off the back of a very strong year and we are working flat out to try and achieve that."

    Ford will return to F1 this year for the first time since 2004 and partner with Red Bull from 2026.

    Verstappen cannot wait for the partnership after seeing success in a collaboration with Honda, having also witnessed first-hand the struggles with the Renault combination.

    "I signed twice without actually fully knowing what was coming in terms of engines, and people said maybe that's a crazy thing to do," he continued.

    "I believed in the project and I believed that everyone involved would make the right decisions for the team.

    "The first one they made going with Honda, I think that worked out really well and now for the future this is the next step – Ford in 2026 – and I believe in it.

    "If we all believe in it, I'm sure we can create something really cool."

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    Red Bull revealed their RB19 car for the 2023 season at a launch event in New York City on Friday, with reigning F1 champion Max Verstappen, team-mate Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner in attendance.

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    "We are mavericks, we are pushing the boundaries. We are looking forward to this busy season in 2023," said Horner, whose team took the constructors' title off Mercedes last year, as well as seeing Verstappen win for a second straight year.

    "It is going to be an incredible season; our rivals for sure haven't stood still. Ferrari are going to be competitive, Mercedes are going to be there; there are some other teams that could make some big progress as well.

    "In Bahrain, in a couple of weeks' time, we will get to see everyone's car and see if we have missed something, have we not.

    "There is going to be highs and lows along the way, but I think we are in a good place. We are going to have to be at the top of our game this season."

    Of Red Bull's partnership with Ford, Horner added: "To welcome the Ford brand back into Formula One, to have the Red Bull Ford powertrain is going to be very exciting.

    "There was a natural synergy between the two companies, it was an easy deal – 2026 seems like a long way away, but in the engine world, it is tomorrow.

    "We have recruited some incredible talent and have some great people in the team.  We are really excited about what we can achieve."

    Ford's involvement in F1 began in the 1960s with a long-standing partnership with British firm Cosworth.

    They are the third-most successful engine manufacturer in the history of F1, having played a part in winning 10 constructors' championships and 13 drivers' championships.

    Ford chief executive Jim Farley said: "We don't want to make generic cars, faceless vehicles; we want vehicles with an attitude – this team represents that."

    Horner said: "It's a huge era for the team. As Formula One moves to pretty much a 50-50 split between hybridisation and combustion power, we wanted to have a like-minded partner.

    "It's great to see the Ford brand coming back into Formula One."

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    The 23-year-old, son of Formula One great Michael Schumacher, lost his seat at Haas following the 2022 season and was subsequently released from Ferrari's young driver programme.

    Schumacher signed as Mercedes' third driver, behind Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, but will now deputise for Lando Norris or Oscar Piastri at McLaren in the event of either being unable to race.

    Those opportunities would still be presented should either Hamilton or Russell have issues this season, though there is now a greater chance of Schumacher making an appearance on the grid.

    In two seasons at Haas, Schumacher scored points on two occasions from 43 races and was replaced by compatriot Nico Hulkenberg for the 2023 campaign.

    As pointed out by McLaren, representing the team brings the Schumacher name full circle as team principal Andrea Stella worked alongside Mick's father as performance engineer.

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