Lewis Hamilton has downplayed his chances of wrapping up a sixth world title at the next round of the 2019 championship in Mexico, describing it as Mercedes’ “worst race of the year”.
Hamilton was denied a shot at a 10th win of the season by what he saw as his team’s wrong decision to put him on a two-stop strategy at Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.
He eventually finished third behind race winner Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel, a result which left him 74 points clear of Bottas with just four grands prix remaining.
Despite needing merely to finish ahead of his team-mate, his only mathematical challenger for the title, in Mexico to be crowned champion, Hamilton played down the chances of further champagne celebrations after Mercedes wrapped up another constructors’ title at Suzuka.
“I think Mexico is generally our worst race of the year because of the way our car is set up and it’s going to be a tough one for us,” he said. “The last few have been pretty shocking, even though we won the [constructors’] title here [Japan].
“I’m hoping for a better weekend but I think it’s going to be very hard to beat the Ferraris with those long straights. We have no hope of getting by on those straights, that’s for sure. The McLarens are picking up
some serious speeds on the straights, so are the Red Bulls, so I think it will be a tricky one. I don’t anticipate it will be Mexico [for the title]. I think we will be battling for a few good races.”
Despite sweeping the board for another season, Hamilton effectively told his team they needed to raise their game for the final races of the season.
“We can do better as a team to make sure we score more one-twos,” he said. “So we’ll just work hard on that — we’ll be pushing hard.”