Lewis Hamilton fears there is a “high chance” that Max Verstappen will win all 10 remaining races this season – and believes the Dutchman’s crushing dominance could last until 2026.
Following a four-week summer shutdown, Formula One fires up this weekend at Verstappen’s home round in the Netherlands.
Verstappen has won the last eight races and he will match Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine on the spin for Red Bull in 2013 if he triumphs in front of his orange-clad Dutch fans here on Sunday.
Just @LewisHamilton setting the DHL Fastest Lap of the Belgian Grand Prix on his first attempt in the last-lap of the race!
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 1, 2023
Such is the dominance of Verstappen’s machine – and the two-time world champion’s supreme form – there is a feeling in the paddock, not only that Red Bull could become the first team to go through a campaign unbeaten, but that Verstappen could be victorious at each of the concluding 10 rounds.
“There is a high chance that he (Verstappen) will win every race,” said Hamilton, 38. “He hasn’t made any mistakes and the team hasn’t made many this year. They might win everything.
“But later on in the year, maybe we will get closer and we are hopeful we can challenge them at some point – whether that is this weekend, or who knows where? If there are any mistakes or mishaps, we will be right there to capitalise.”
Verstappen has dominated since F1’s regulations were overhauled at the start of last season, with his comfortable victory at the concluding round before the break in Belgium his 10th from 12 so far and his 19th from his last 23 outings.
He is a staggering 125 points clear in the standings as he closes in on a hat-trick of titles.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc predicted on Thursday that it would be “very, very difficult” to catch Verstappen and Red Bull before the sport’s next major rule change in 2026.
And Hamilton continued: “The fact is Red Bull are ahead and they have most likely started development on next year’s car a month before anybody else. It is very, very possible that Charles could be right.
“We are working on the steep gradient to develop our car and close the gap. Whether or not we can, next year will be the proof.”
Hamilton’s £40million-a-year contract expires at the end of the season and the Briton said on Thursday that were there was no update on his next deal, despite team principal Toto Wolff claiming – ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix on June 18 – that his star driver’s future would be resolved in “days rather than weeks”.
Hamilton is fourth in the standings, 41 points adrift of Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez who occupies the runner-up spot, while Mercedes are second in the team standings, an eye-watering 256 points behind Red Bull, but 51 points clear of Ferrari.
“It is a huge achievement to be second in the championship and it is something I feel has been overlooked,” said Hamilton. “We want to win but I am really proud of the team and the steps we have taken.
Our three world champions on the grid are simply unstoppable this year!
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 10, 2023
“The guys think this track is not too different to Budapest and our car was good in Budapest. Even last year when the car was not great in Zandvoort, we were closer to the front.
“George (Russell) finished second and at one point I was hunting down the lead so I am hoping we are closer or in shooting range of a podium this weekend.
“We have the belief we will get there. And my goal is to try and keep that second place in the constructors’ championship and hunt down second in the drivers’ standings.”