Lewis Hamilton says Red Bull’s dominant victory at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix despite not upgrading the car since August is “definitely a concern”.
Max Verstappen crowned off his third world championship-winning campaign with a 19th win of 2023, beating the opposition by over 17 seconds in Abu Dhabi.
Red Bull won all but one of the 22 races this year, setting a new record for most wins in a season, while Hamilton’s Mercedes team went a whole year without a single victory for the first time since 2011.
Hamilton, who was downbeat after a difficult race at Yas Marina where he could only finish ninth, was aware of the scale of the challenge Mercedes has to catch Red Bull next season.
“Not great,” said Hamilton on his mood after the race, as quoted by Motorsport.com. “I just finished ninth; two really bad races [seventh in Las Vegas].
“Red Bull won by 17 seconds and have not touched the car since August. So, you can pretty much guess where they’re going to be next year… I was just slow throughout the race.”
Red Bull abandoned development of the RB19 after the Dutch Grand Prix – the first race after the summer break – turning attention to its 2024 car.
Asked about the prospect of Mercedes taking the fight to Red Bull next year, Hamilton was unsure if the Brackley-based outfit could close the gap to its rivals.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Hamilton said: “[Red Bull] haven’t even developed their car since August; it’s definitely a concern.
“But we’ve learned a lot about the car and it’s just down to the team now and they know what they need to do. Whether or not we’ll get there, we’ll see.”
Hamilton conceded “not too much” could be taken from a trying 2023 season, adding: “It’s not been a great year in general. So, there’s not a lot to take from the year. The fact that I survived it… that’s about it.”