Hamilton loses to Verstappen in Mexico, says Red Bull's far superior
Mercedes ace's hopes of 8th F1 title fading after Verstappen's victory in Mexico
Lewis Hamilton said his Mercedes was no match for Max Verstappen's Red Bull after his dream of a record eighth Formula One championship slipped further from his grasp in Mexico City yesterday morning (Singapore time).
The 36-year-old Briton had started on the front row of the grid, only for his hopes of victory to be dashed in the opening seconds as Verstappen seized the lead and then pulled away to win.
"Their car was far superior this weekend and there was nothing we really could do about it," Hamilton said, after finishing a hefty 16.555 seconds behind Verstappen.
The gap between him and his Dutch rival has extended to 19 points with only four races left.
The seven-time champion said he gave all he had, holding off Red Bull's Sergio Perez at the finish with the Mexican chasing a team one-two.
Giving everything was still not enough, however, on a day when teammate Valtteri Bottas started on pole position but was hit and spun on the opening lap, ending up out of the points.
"I naturally feel I need to be winning every race, because we need those extra points, not to lose those points, to try and regain. That was the goal going into the last race and the race before that and before that and here this weekend," said Hamilton.
"But... they're just too quick. So (we were) giving it absolutely everything we've got but unfortunately, it's not enough at the moment to compete with them."
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said it had been a question of damage limitation for Hamilton in the championship race, and hailed the Briton for driving "a brilliant race with the equipment he was given".
"You have to congratulate Red Bull because the pace was just on another level," said Wolff.
"I don't think we could have won the race, even if we would have stayed ahead in the first corner."
Verstappen, 24, has now won nine races to Hamilton's five and the next, in Brazil, should also play to his car's strengths before the three final races in the Middle East.
"I knew the start was going to be really important and we went three wide towards turn one and it was all about who was going to brake the latest," said Verstappen, who started brilliantly from third on the grid.
"Basically, that made my race because after that, I could just do my own pace and control it from there. There was not much they could do."
The points haul left the resurgent Red Bull one point behind defending champions Mercedes in the constructors' standings.
They would have been equal had Bottas not snatched the fastest lap from Verstappen right at the end, denying Red Bull the bonus point.
"Today's been a massive day, a fantastic drive by Max," said Red Bull boss Christian Horner. "The most important part was the start. He nailed the start.
"I thought Max had missed his braking because he was so late on the brakes at turn one but he made it stick and from there really controlled the race.
"It was a very straightforward race for him."
Despite the points gained, Verstappen was still refusing to get carried away.
"There is a long way to go. It's of course looking good but also, it can turn around very quickly.
"But I'm looking forward to Brazil," said the Dutchman. "I have also very good memories there." - AFP, REUTERS