Japanese GP: Lewis Hamilton hails Max Verstappen on world championship as Briton eyes Mercedes upgrade


Max Verstappen was crowned world champion for a second consecutive season after winning the Japanese GP on Sunday; Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in rain-shortened Suzuka race; Mercedes hope to return to contention next year after disappointing 2022 campaign

Last Updated: 09/10/22 12:07pm

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Lewis Hamilton hopes Mercedes will be more competitive next season as he continues to target an elusive eighth world title

Lewis Hamilton hopes Mercedes will be more competitive next season as he continues to target an elusive eighth world title

Lewis Hamilton says he has “no doubt” Mercedes will build a better car for 2023, after congratulating Max Verstappen on winning a second consecutive world championship.

Hamilton was denied an eighth title as Verstappen won his first Drivers’ Championship in controversial circumstances last year, but the Briton has never been in contention this season.

Mercedes have largely been unable to keep pace with Red Bull and Ferrari following the introduction of new design regulations for 2022, but hope to return to the top of the grid next year.

“Congratulations to Max,” said Hamilton, who has yet to win a race this season.

“I think for us we know what the issues are with this car.

The best of the 2022 Suzuka Japanese Grand Prix action

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The best of the 2022 Suzuka Japanese Grand Prix action

The best of the 2022 Suzuka Japanese Grand Prix action

“I believe that as a team we haven’t gone from world champions to not being able to build a good car. I have no doubt that we will build a better car next year.

“Whether or not we fix the problems this year, we’ll find out when we get there.”

Verstappen was crowned in confusing circumstances after winning a chaotic, rain-shortened Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.

Max Verstappen is crowned F1 world champion for the second time after a last lap penalty imposed on Charles Leclerc relegated him to third place and sealed the championship for the Dutchman

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Max Verstappen is crowned F1 world champion for the second time after a last lap penalty imposed on Charles Leclerc relegated him to third place and sealed the championship for the Dutchman

Max Verstappen is crowned F1 world champion for the second time after a last lap penalty imposed on Charles Leclerc relegated him to third place and sealed the championship for the Dutchman

There was huge confusion at the checkered flag over whether partial or full points would be awarded with just 29 of the scheduled 53 laps having been completed.

However, a decision was made to award all points, meaning Verstappen’s triumph was sealed with four races of the season remaining.

“Red Bull has obviously done an incredible job with the car this year,” added Hamilton. “A big congratulations to the whole team, and to Max.”

“I don’t feel frustrated, I had a blast!”

Hamilton started sixth and gained an early position after Carlos Sainz crashed, but couldn’t pass Esteban Ocon despite being closely followed by the Alpine for most of the race.

The Briton repeatedly closed behind Ocon, but Mercedes’ lack of straight-line speed prevented him from making an overtake on the main straights.

“I don’t feel frustrated,” Hamilton said. “It was a sprint race. I did my best and I’m happy that we at least scored some points today.

Esteban Ocon says he had a lot of fun fighting with Lewis Hamilton around Suzuka

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Esteban Ocon says he had a lot of fun fighting with Lewis Hamilton around Suzuka

Esteban Ocon says he had a lot of fun fighting with Lewis Hamilton around Suzuka

“We were so slow on the straight. I was getting as close as I could but as soon as I pulled out they just went away.

“I wish it was a longer race. I’m glad we got a few laps for the fans here, although it’s not really a huge race for them considering how long they’ve been waiting. “

Hamilton declined to comment on a controversial incident at the start of the race which saw a recovery vehicle on the track at the same time as the cars, prompting angry reactions from several drivers.

Karun Chandhok talks about a chaotic start to the Japanese GP as the race is flagged in pouring rain

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Karun Chandhok talks about a chaotic start to the Japanese GP as the race is flagged in pouring rain

Karun Chandhok talks about a chaotic start to the Japanese GP as the race is flagged in pouring rain

However, the 37-year-old praised the race directors for deciding to let the race resume after a rain stoppage of more than two hours.

“In terms of the conditions, just restarting, I think it was great – that’s what motor racing is,” Hamilton said.

“I had a blast. It was so hard, so hard to see, really hard to see the car spinning, but that’s motor racing.

“I think the restart we had at the end was probably perfect timing and I just wish we could have lasted longer.”




Sky Sports

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