Hamilton admits final race of season ‘couldn’t have been much worse’ with Red Bull’s pace ‘definitely a concern’ for 2024
Lewis Hamilton offered a frank assessment following his challenging run to the tail-end of the points in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, having finished the best part of a minute away from the leaders.
Hamilton struggled for pace throughout the season-ending event at the Yas Marina Circuit, starting 11th after a Q2 exit and rising only two places while team mate George Russell finished on the podium.
Hamilton and Russell’s points haul at least helped Mercedes beat Ferrari to second place in the constructors’ standings, but 2023 saw the Silver Arrows fail to win a Grand Prix for the first time in more than 10 years, while Hamilton himself has gone two seasons without triumphing.
Asked to sum up the final race of the campaign, the seven-time world champion commented: “Pretty bad, pretty bad – it couldn’t really be much worse.
“I just was slow. I started 11th and came ninth… I just struggled with the car and can’t really say much more. Tomorrow’s a new day, so I’ll just focus on that for now.”
Asked in an interview with Sky Sports what he could take from 2023 that will help next season, he added: “Not too much, really. It’s not been a great year in general. There’s not a lot to take from the year in general. The fact that I survived it, probably that’s about it.”
Hamilton also pointed to Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s significant winning margin in the final race of the season, despite a relative lack of development, as he tackled his and Mercedes’ hopes for 2024.
“At this moment I don’t really know [what will happen],” he said. “For Red Bull to win by 17 seconds in the end, and they haven’t even developed their car since August, is definitely a concern.
“We’ve learnt a lot about the car and it’s just down to the team now. They know what they need to do, whether or not we’ll get there, we’ll see.”
With six podium finishes earlier in the season, Hamilton ended up third in the drivers’ standings behind Red Bull pair Verstappen and Perez, five places and 59 points clear of team mate Russell.