Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton expressed concern over the potential strength of Red Bull in the 2024 Formula 1 season after Max Verstappen won the season finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The seven-time world champion suggested Red Bull have been able to get a head start on next season’s car since August thanks to their dominance in 2023.
The 2023 season was dominated by Verstappen. He began with victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix and never relented, winning 19 of 22 races – an F1 record.
As a result, Verstappen sealed his third straight Drivers’ Championship. The three-time world champion has dominated F1 in recent years, and he has become the face of the sport thanks to the success experienced by Red Bull.
Abu Dhabi was no different; Verstappen controlled the race to win over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, while Mercedes’s George Russell completed the podium following a Sergio Perez penalty. The points ensured Mercedes sealed the runner-up spot in the constructors’ championship.
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Meanwhile, Russell’s teammate Hamilton finished ninth after starting 11th. He limped home having lost the rear of the W14 on the final lap as he jostled with Yuki Tsunoda, and the Brit – who last won a race at the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – appeared downbeat at the prospect of overhauling Red Bull next season.
When asked about his mood following the race at Yas Marina Circuit, Hamilton told Sky Sports: “Not great. I just finished ninth; two really bad races [seventh in Las Vegas]. Red Bull won by 17 seconds and have not touched the car since August. So, you can pretty much guess where they’re going to be next year… I was just slow throughout the race.”
It is widely known that Red Bull switched their attention to developing its 2024 car as it became apparent they were to once again win both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships this season. Hamilton is undoubtedly worried there is too much ground for Mercedes to make up on their rivals before the season-opener in Bahrain in March 2024.
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“[Red Bull] haven’t even developed their car since August,” Hamilton added. “It’s definitely a concern.
“But we’ve learned a lot about the car and it’s just down to the team now and they know what they need to do. Whether or not we’ll get there, we’ll see.”
During the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hamilton’s collision with Alpine’s Pierre Gasly damaged his front wing, while he called out his former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso for brake-checking him on lap 37. The Aston Martin star escaped punishment from the stewards, and he went on to finish seventh – two places ahead of Hamilton.
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