Kuala Lumpur: Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said yesterday he does not see it as “a dry spell” or “end of the world” if he fails to win a race this season.
The Briton has struggled all year in his Mercedes and ahead of Sunday night’s race in Singapore is well out of the running for another world title, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the cusp of retaining his crown.
It is a far cry from last season, when the two went head to head for the title in the final race, and Hamilton and Mercedes are yet to take a chequered flag this term.
“I do not look at it as a dry spell. I feel this year has been a year of growth. It has been a good experience for all,” Hamilton told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.
“There are six races (left) so there’s six opportunities and we will try to get a win, but if we do not do well, I do not think it is the end of the world.
“We will get back to the top,” Hamilton said confidently yesterday.
The 37-year-old called this “one of the toughest seasons” of his career, having wrestled with a car that has suffered from porpoising – bouncing at high speed – and been found wanting against the dominant Red Bulls. “We just need to understand the car,” Hamilton added. For all that, along with teammate and fellow Briton George Russell, Mercedes are battling with Ferrari for second in the constructors’ championship.
“Our goal is a second placing. Hopefully, in the next six races, we will do well,” he said yesterday.
Earlier, Mercedes signed an agreement to extend their title sponsorship with Malaysian oil giant Petronas with a multi-year contract until at least 2029.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso will meanwhile set a record with his 350th start, one more than 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen managed.
This year’s race will be the first of a new seven-year deal agreed with Formula One this year, keeping Singapore on the calendar until at least 2028.
The race, staged in the heart of the city against a backdrop of glittering skyscrapers, has established itself as one of the sport’s most glamorous and popular racing circuit.
A crowd of about 268,000 attended over the whole weekend in 2019 and organisers are expecting a sell-out this year.
Statistics for Singapore GP
Lap distance: 5.063km.
Total distance: 308.706km (61 laps)
No race since 2019
Race lap record: One minute 41.905 seconds, Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) Haas, 2018.
Start time: 1200GMT
Sunday’s night-time race is the 13th in Singapore since its debut in 2008.
Three current drivers have won at the 23 corner circuit: Fernando Alonso (2008, 2010), Lewis Hamilton (2009, 2014, 2017, 2018) and Sebastian Vettel (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2019).
Longest race: The race is the longest in terms of time to complete and runs close to the two-hour limit.
Safety car: The safety car has featured in all 12 editions.
Debut: 4 drivers are making Singapore debuts: Mick Schumacher (Haas), Nicholas Latifi (Williams), Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo) and Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri).
Drivers of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team Lewis Hamilton (centre) and George Russell attend an event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, yesterday. (Reuters)