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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Too early to talk of a Verstappen era, says Hamilton

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after placing second in the Formula One United States Grand Prix, at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on October 23, 2022. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP)
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after placing second in the Formula One United States Grand Prix, at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on October 23, 2022. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP)

MEXICO CITY: Lewis Hamilton believes it is too early to refer to a 'Max Verstappen era' following the Dutchman's success in clinching a second consecutive drivers world title with Red Bull


Mercedes' seven-time champion, who was controversially beaten by Verstappen on the final lap of last year's final race in Abu Dhabi, suggested it remained possible Ferrari can overhaul Red Bull and change the narrative.


And his view was supported by Charles Leclerc who said he is working towards preventing a Verstappen and Red Bull era of dominance.


"It is too early to say," said Hamilton, who is without a win this season for the first time since he entered Formula One in 2007.


"If we get into next year and they're dominating again, then yes, but the Ferraris have been quicker than them throughout qualifying...


"I think they've probably had better performance for the majority of the season. Now, all they need to do is pick up their race pace and they'll be right with them.


"I think we've got a much, much bigger step and steeper hill to climb, but hopefully not impossible."


Verstappen goes into this weekend's Mexico Grand Prix chasing a record for most wins in a single season after drawing level with seven-time champion Michael Schumacher and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel on 13.


Leclerc saluted his consistency and runaway success, but he believes Ferrari's work on improving their car and performance next season will pay off.


"I hope not," said the Monegasque when confronted with the prospect of a 'Verstappen era'. "I will do everything I can to prevent that and as a team we are also working on that.


"I think it is very clear for us where we need to improve. Over one lap, we are really strong and I think we are on the same level as Red Bull -- over the course of a race, then we are struggling with tyres.


"Looking back at the season, there's been not only tyre degradation, but there have been mistakes in strategy, communication and tyre management.


"We are trying to use these last races in the best way possible in order to challenge Max and Red Bull for the championship next year.


"I'm confident we can do that because I know how hard we are working and I'm confident that we are working in the right direction." -- AFP


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