Lewis Hamilton says his hopes of finishing second in the drivers’ championship are dependent on Sergio Perez’s performances at the final three races of the season.
Perez held a 39-point lead over Hamilton as a result of the latter’s disqualification in Austin, but then crashed out on the opening lap in Mexico and Hamilton finished second with the fastest lap to reduce the gap to 20. Heading into a Sprint weekend at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, Hamilton says he’s back in the fight but relative car performance means clean weekends for Perez will make it tough.
“It’s mostly dependent on Checo’s weekends really,” Hamilton said. “They have the championship-winning car. He’s just been unfortunate, I think, in some scenarios. Obviously I’ve lost quite a lot of points in the last two races but he lost points (in Mexico). So it’s swings and roundabouts.
“I think coming into the weekend, having lost points last week, I didn’t think I would really be in shooting range particularly but after (Sunday), yeah, we’ll just give it our best shot. Honestly, it’s not going to make a big difference to my life, whether I come second or third. It’s more important to get the team second in the constructors’ and so that’s what I’m focused on. It’s a bonus if we get second in the drivers’.”
Perez has two wins compared to none for Hamilton this year, but the Mercedes driver points to George Russell’s victory at Interlagos 12 months ago as reason for optimism.
“It definitely gives us a lot of confidence. I mean, last year, at the same time, we were doing the same thing, but last year, I think we were three-tenths behind Max in qualifying (in Mexico) – or something like that, and I came second again but he walked off with it. So, we’re really just mirroring what we did last year.
“So, we have to make some real big changes for next year. Because obviously, in Bahrain earlier this year, they were 1.5 seconds a lap faster than us at least. The key is to make sure that’s not the case in Bahrain, but I think hopefully these next couple of races will be close. But I’d probably put money on it that (Verstappen) will get to 18, 19 (wins) with that car.”