Lewis Hamilton says every race between now and the end of the season is a must-win for him after slipping 19 points behind Max Verstappen ahead of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
Verstappen’s win in Mexico City saw him extend his lead, with Hamilton limiting the damage by holding off Sergio Perez for second place. With four races to go and Verstappen still within a race win, Hamilton doesn’t need to rely on the Red Bull driver’s results to win the title as he would be champion if he won all four, but he says he can’t afford anything else from here on in.
“Every race is a must-win race,” Hamilton said. “It’s been a must-win race since forever, particularly since we came back since the break but we’ve not really managed to be able to do so.
“I would imagine (the task in Brazil is) as steep as it can be. Their pace was obviously phenomenal in the last race. They’ve had a strong car all year — they’ve had the strongest car, you can tell. I think we’ve done as good as I think we could.
“We are definitely going to be pushing this weekend to see if we can squeeze any more from out of the car. Last time here they were incredibly strong so we anticipate again they will be very hard to beat this weekend. When there’s a will there’s a way, hopefully.”
Returning to the track where he dramatically missed out on a title in his rookie season but then secured his first championship a year later, Hamilton says he doesn’t view this season as any more tough than previous ones despite Red Bull’s pace.
“It’s just another year — they are always tough in lots of different ways. This year obviously we’ve had our wings clipped, so it’s definitely been harder from an operational standpoint to maximize the car; but no, the battle we had back in the day when we were both younger was tough against the Ferraris who were very strong back then. It’s all similar. I don’t really rate any one harder than the other, they’ve all been hard in their own way.
“It’s just a bit harder to set up (the car) this year… it’s really difficult to explain — there are too many elements to go into in terms of detail. It’s just a harder car to optimize. Some weekends it works, some weekends it doesn’t but to land on the ground with the simulations in the right place, it’s just a little bit harder this year. I think it’s similar for others — you saw in Austin, for example, the Red Bulls were quite far off but all of a sudden they switched it around. Getting the maximum potential out of the car has been harder this year.”
Hamilton hinted his task could become even more difficult, as he’s unsure if he will have to take a power unit penalty at Interlagos this weekend.
“I can’t really comment at the moment. I don’t think the engines have even arrived this morning. As far as I am aware currently my engine is fine. I will find out obviously later on. We’ve not even done an engineering (meeting) yet.”