Lewis Hamilton says there is no update on his contract situation but that the performance of Mercedes this year shouldn’t be underestimated as he still sees overhauling Sergio Perez in the drivers’ championship as a realistic goal.
The seven-time world champion is out of contract at the end of the season and negotiations have been ongoing for a number of months, but he said there is no further news to share about it heading into this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix. Although Mercedes has been unable to deliver a race-winning car this season so far, Hamilton says if it finishes second to Red Bull it will mark a significant result, and that he’s hoping to beat Perez to second in the drivers’ standings having previously named Fernando Alonso in third as his target.
“I think it’s a huge achievement, and something that I feel has been a little bit overlooked, if I’m really honest,” Hamilton said. “More focusing I guess — only because we want to win, I would say there hasn’t been the most positive narrative. But I’m really proud of the team, the progress and the steps we have taken with the car, from feeling like an almost identical car to last year, to making all the changes that we have.
“There are some small adjustments we are making moving forwards over these next couple of races. We have some small bits added to the car this weekend — every point of downforce, every little bit that we add makes a difference. So I’m super grateful to everyone back at the factory for continuing to push, even through the hard times, and just staying focused with the belief that we will get there at some point. Just to keep churning away the good work.
“For us to be second in the constructors’ championship, considering how others have started this year — like how McLaren are doing with their big turnaround, Aston who came out of the blocks really great — I think it’s pretty amazing. That’s down to all these amazing people back at the factory, and the crew that we have here.
“Also the driver’s doing not a bad job! And you know, my goal is to try and make sure the team keep that second place in the championship, and try and hunt down second in the drivers’ championship, that is my goal.”
For all the team’s progress, Hamilton acknowledges there’s a good chance Red Bull will sweep the season given the form Max Verstappen is showing, as the Dutchman goes after his ninth straight victory at Zandvoort this weekend.
“There is a high chance that he’ll win every race. But, we’re hopeful that we can challenge them at some point, whether it’s this weekend or who knows where. And if there are any mistakes, any mishaps, we’ll be right there to try and capitalize on them. They don’t really make them, or he hasn’t made any, and the team hasn’t made any this year I think anyway. So yeah, they might win everything. Hopefully later on in the year, we’ll get closer maybe.”
One storyline that moved on over the summer break was Felipe Massa’s legal challenge against the 2008 drivers’ championship, but Hamilton declined to comment on that situation.
“I have a really bad memory, so I don’t really remember a lot, to be honest. I’m really just focused on the here and now and helping the team get back into the championship and the race. I’m not really focused on what happened 15 years ago.”