Lewis Hamilton makes Max Verstappen admission after Italian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen holds a commanding championship advantage.

Mercedes driver, Sir Lewis Hamilton, observes that Red Bull are “almost unbeatable,” so his team might need some help to beat them this year.

Max Verstappen has won three races from outside the top six this year, all of those arriving in the last four races.

He started 10th in Hungary after a power issue in qualifying, before an engine penalty saw him start 14th in Spa after the summer break.

Last weekend in Monza, another penalty sent him back to seventh, but there was a common theme with all of those races – the reigning champion won with relative ease.

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Verstappen has taken his tally up to 11 races wins for the season, beating his record in the whole of last year, while the 12 won by Red Bull puts them one behind their record in a single season, when Sebastian Vettel dominated the 2013 campaign.

Indeed, domination like that was what Red Bull became known for towards the end of the V8 era, but Mercedes have been the ones asserting it for the majority of the turbo hybrid era.

Under the new technical regulations, the Silver Arrows have fallen back and, despite 13 podiums between them in 2022, neither Sir Lewis Hamilton not George Russell have won a race this year.

Despite their strong start to the season, Charles Leclerc has won three, while Carlos Sainz claimed his maiden win at the British Grand Prix – the Scuderia have given it their best shot, but are set to be soundly beaten by Red Bull.

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Leclerc and Sainz are able to compete with Verstappen and Perez in qualifying, and the Mexican has perhaps struggled in race trim too in the last few rounds as he wrestles with a changing RB18.

For Verstappen though, he is unstoppable in the race, and he comfortably beat Leclerc on Sunday after the Monegasque had started on pole.

Hamilton recovered from 19th on the grid in Monza to claim fifth as Russell finished third, and as he looks at the gap to the top teams, he knows it will take a huge effort to usurp them at the top.

“We have to be realistic, that Red Bull is almost unbeatable,” he said.

“It’s going to take some real doing to beat that car, performance-wise, they are fully ahead of everyone.”

Russell took pole in Hungary, and both he and Hamilton finished on the podium in that race, but the Dutchman still won by 10 seconds.

The seven-time champion is aware that he and Russell will need some misfortune to hit the Austrian team if Mercedes are to win a race in the final six rounds of the season.

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“We have not caught them, we don’t have upgrades coming to overtake them so it’s going to take some fortune going our way,” explained Hamilton.

“It’s not impossible because we could have beaten them maybe in Budapest, but he’s generally chilled at the front so you never know their true pace, we’ll see.”

Verstappen now leads Leclerc by 116 points in the Drivers’ Standings, while Red Bull hold a 139-point advantage over Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.