Lewis Hamilton’s chances of overtaking Sergio Perez for second in the Formula 1 standings are now slim to none.
Hamilton enters the Las Vegas Grand Prix 32 points behind Perez after Mercedes’ terrible showing at the São Paulo Grand Prix. Hamilton finished eighth after starting fifth, while teammate Georgie Russell was forced to retire his car.
Max Verstappen wrapped up his third straight championship in October and the race between his Red Bull teammate Perez and Hamilton has been for best-of-the-rest status. But it now looks like Perez should hang onto second after he finished fourth in Brazil and gained 12 points on Hamilton over the sprint race weekend.
During his news conference Wednesday, Hamilton said Perez was "too far away" to catch over the final two races of the season.
"Yeah, 30 points in two races, it's, yeah, he would have to have two disasters and I would have to be second, basically," Hamilton said. "But for me, honestly it really doesn't make any difference if I’m second or third. I think we still had an amazing year given the car that we've had. We never thought that we would be fighting for second in the Constructors’ and knocking on the door of the most dominant car, probably, of our era. So yeah. I'm grateful for just being where we are and having a half decent season. Much better than last year."
Mercedes won eight consecutive constructor’s championships from 2014-21 as Hamilton won six world championships in that span. But the team fell behind in 2022 when F1 introduced new car regulations and has been playing catch-up in 2023.
Russell finished fourth and Hamilton was sixth in the points a season ago as Mercedes was third to Red Bull and Ferrari in the constructor’s standings. This season, Mercedes is up 20 points on Ferrari for second with two races to go.
If Hamilton was to get past Perez for second and not win either of the last two races, he'd be the first driver since 1971 to finish second without a win.
Hamilton said Wednesday that the team had identified what went wrong in Brazil. He repeatedly complained during the race of his car’s slowness on the straightaways and said that the team “just had [the car] in the wrong window.” When asked if he was more confident about the Las Vegas weekend, Hamilton expressed some cautious optimism.
“Definitely more than the last one,” Hamilton said. “Still, I think it’s going to be a challenge and getting the tires working this weekend and we’re often not necessarily the quickest on the straights, so that’ll be a challenge to see if we can not lose too much on the straights, but keep up with everyone in the corners. But it’s not the most technical of circuits, so hopefully that makes it a little bit easier.”