Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton has praised his former rival Max Verstappen for his dominant championship-winning performance this year.
Verstappen secured his second title last month with victory at the Japanese Grand Prix and has won 14 of the 20 races so far this year, breaking the record for the most wins in a single season previously held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton, who fought Verstappen for last year’s title up until the final lap of the final race in Abu Dhabi, has not been in contention for this year’s championship after Mercedes made a stuttering start under F1’s new technical regulations.
However, when asked about his thoughts on Verstappen’s record season in 2022, Hamilton only had good things to say about his fierce rival from last year.
“I can’t say that I’ve had time to like study every aspect of what Max has done this year, but I think he’s done an amazing job,” Hamilton said. “He’s done everything he had to do. The team provided him with an amazing car, and he’s delivered pretty much every weekend.
“He can be proud of the job he has done. I know how it feels to be in a position like that, I mean he’s got a chance to win more races, the next two races, so he could take that record that he’s now taken even further if we can’t stop him or Ferrari can’t stop him.
“But yeah, not really a lot more to say. He’s done a great job.”
Hamilton has yet to secure a victory this season, meaning 2022 could be the first year since his debut in 2007 in which he failed to win a race. Although his best chance likely passed at the Mexican Grand Prix two weeks ago, Hamilton is not ruling out a win at this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, especially if the forecast of rain holds true.
“I think us as a team is focused on making sure that we have a car that we can compete with next year,” he said. “We don’t know, honestly every time that we arrive at a track, we’re surprised one way or another how big the gap is or how close we are. So I won’t know until tomorrow [after qualifying] where that is.
“I don’t know if the car will be spectacular here. I don’t know if we’ll be as close as we were at the last race, I don’t think we will. But I hope I’m surprised and it’s not the case.
“We know where our car is going to work and what corners it won’t work. I anticipate it’s not going to be the easiest on-track. But there’s weather, there’s all sorts that could come into it.
“So out of the next two races, this is the best option we’ll have or the closest we’ll be. The next one I think with those long straights will be tough.”