Lewis Hamilton criticised Mercedes’ tactics and suggested he and George Russell needed to “work as a team” after on-track battles throughout the Japanese Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion finished fifth at Suzuka, two places ahead of Russell in a race where the pair scrapped repeatedly and aired frustration over the team radio.

After an early coming together where Russell surged past Hamilton before swiftly losing the place again, the 38-year-old pushed his team-mate off track in a second scrap and they then disagreed over how to defend their places against Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Russell was struggling on his tyres having attempted a one-stop strategy, while others around him deployed a two-stop, and Hamilton urged his team to let him through.

The 25-year-old resisted on the radio before being told “this is an instruction, George” and allowing Hamilton to pass.

Hamilton was then told to stay within DRS range to help his team-mate defend against Sainz, as the Spaniard had done to thwart Russell a week ago in Singapore.

“We should have swapped around earlier and I should have got as far ahead as possible to get the gap as big as we could to the Ferrari,” Hamilton said.

“Because he (Russell) was trying to fight me he was damaging his tyres and I think it just made it all complicated.

“The fact is we are not fighting each other in the team championship. As drivers it is not important where we are.

“What is important is that one of us finishes ahead of the Ferrari and to keep the position. Today we really needed to work as a team.”

Hamilton also disagreed with the team’s DRS strategy.

“I don’t think that was a good idea at all,” he said. “When they suggested it to me I knew that they obviously thought of it from the last race but it made no sense.

“I needed to get as far clear as possible. I was on my way, around two seconds ahead and they asked me to give George DRS and I had to come off the gas down the straight.

“Then he got overtaken by Sainz. He then got past George and he was right on my tail which was not ideal.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was absent for this race due to knee surgery, with his role divided among numerous other staff while the Austrian was on the intercom.

The team’s lead to Ferrari was cut in the battle for second in the constructors’ championship – which Red Bull clinched at Suzuka with a record six races remaining.

Max Verstappen stormed to victory, with McLaren pair Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri on the podium ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Russell, who lost sixth to Sainz at the death, said he had no hard feelings over the battle with Hamilton.

“The main goal is to finish P2 in the constructors’ championship,” Russell said. “The drivers’ championship is out of the window for me totally. Lewis is in a good place to fight for a good position.

“The goal is to finish ahead of Ferrari this season and keep on working for next year. No issues on my side.

“I viewed it as good, hard racing. Of course we lost a bit of overall time fighting each other. You are a bit frustrated on the radio but that is just part of racing.

“We are not even going to discuss it, there is nothing to discuss. We have bigger fish to fry which is how do we make the car go quicker.”

Max Verstappen can cement his place in the Formula One record books by surpassing Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton, so says Jody Scheckter.

Red Bull driver Verstappen broke another record with his victory at the Italian Grand Prix, tallying up a tenth straight race victory, overtaking Sebastian Vettel's previous best of nine.

Verstappen extended his lead in the drivers' championship standings to 145 points and looks on course to win his third title in a row - having triumphed in 2021 and 2022 - and Scheckter sees no reason why the Dutchman's run will end here.

"It really depends on the cars, to a large extent. There's no question he's good enough but has he always got the winning car," he told Stats Perform. 

"To think Lewis [Hamilton] had a dominant car for a long period of time, not to take anything away from him. I also think he's brilliant and smart. You can get in a bad car now and then, doesn't matter how good you are, you're not going to be winning.

"Right now, he's got the car to win. Granted, you can't put anything against it. If he has this dominance all the time, it could be maybe eight drivers' championships."

Verstappen became the youngest driver in F1 when he made his debut aged 17 at the 2015 Austrian Grand Prix, but Scheckter believes that the 25-year-old has had to refine his technique and tactics on the track to fulfil his championship-winning potential.

"He's obviously quick as anything, but he's aggressive. But he's also smart and comes out on the top in these different very difficult situations. At the beginning, he was too aggressive. But now he seems to get it all together and real championship material," Scheckter added.

"I think at the beginning, when you get into Formula One, you just want to prove that you're faster than everybody and so that's what you do. And then you realise you don't win championships like that.

"You tune yourself and he's a smart guy. So he's got it together now and obviously got the car at the moment to do it."

With Verstappen closing in on his third successive title, it has reignited debate surrounding the competitiveness of F1.

Prior to Verstappen's win in 2021, Hamilton had won six titles in the space of seven years, with Vettel also winning four in a row between 2010 and 2013.

According to Scheckter, who won the drivers' championship in 1979 during a nine-year career in which no F1 rival successfully defended their title, changes should be made to try and level the playing field during this era of Red Bull dominance.

He said: "One thing that frustrates me about are these penalties that they mean they have to go back on the grid, and if the gearbox goes, it just doesn't make any sense to me at all.

"It spoils the spectacle of the racing, you want to see people racing on the track. If he breaks down in practice or qualifying he can't get back up to race. Why?

"Everybody wants to see them racing side by side. Just doesn't make any sense from a spectator's point of view that I can see."

Jody Scheckter does not believe Lewis Hamilton's recent struggles will impact his Formula 1 legacy, insisting he will be remembered alongside Michael Schumacher as an all-time great.

Hamilton equalled Schumacher's record of seven drivers' championship titles in 2020, but he has failed to surpass the German icon's tally due to the dominance of Max Verstappen.

Having captured the title in controversial circumstances in 2021 and defended it last year, Verstappen has now won 10 successive races to close in on a third championship, which he could seal as early as the Japanese Grand Prix later this month.

Hamilton, meanwhile, sits fourth in the drivers' standings amid another difficult campaign, which has been plagued by suggestions he could soon walk away from the sport.

However, Hamilton opted to extend his F1 career until at least 2025 by penning a new contract with Mercedes last week, and Scheckter is pleased to see him still enjoying his time on the grid.

"I retired at 30 years old. He wants to carry on," the 1979 world champion told Stats Perform. "That's such a personal decision. He's got to do what he wants to do, if he's enjoying it.

"He's doing a good job, too. I thought [team-mate George] Russell would be quicker. But you know, Lewis is quick, he's doing a good job.

"If he gets a team-mate that beats him all the time… it's going to come, there's no question about it, it will come sooner or later. But people will still remember.

"You can't win that many world championships and not be recognised as an all-time great. 

"Some people get off at the wrong time, they carry on and want to hold onto it until they lose that, and people forget some of the other stuff that happened before."

Asked how Hamilton's achievements compare to those of Schumacher, the former Ferrari driver added: "I put them all in the same category. You know, there's the car there. 

"I think Lewis was a cleaner driver than Schumacher. In his tactics and stuff, he was more like a gentleman on the track than Schumacher was, so I commend him for that."

Sitting above Hamilton in the 2023 standings is his former McLaren team-mate and long-term rival Fernando Alonso, with the 42-year-old enjoying something of a renaissance with Aston Martin.

Alonso has racked up seven podium finishes in 2023 after finishing ninth in the drivers' championship while representing Alpine last year, and though Scheckter has not always been the Spaniard's biggest fan, he respects his longevity.

Reflecting on his own decision to retire in 1980, just one year after being crowned world champion, Scheckter said: "Some people say they enjoy it. I used to say if I'm enjoying it, I'm not trying hard enough.

"But if you're enjoying it, you're going to carry on longer and longer, you know? Maybe I pushed too hard to try and do it, so it's just a personal thing.

"Fernando's obviously very good. I didn't like some of the stuff he did earlier in his career, I didn't like it very much at all, actually. 

"But he's good, he's aggressive. I don't think he's as good as some of the press think he is, but he's doing a good job. Now, he's doing a really great job."

George Russell was confirmed as Lewis Hamilton’s new team-mate at Mercedes on this day in 2021.

The much-anticipated announcement came after Valtteri Bottas sealed a move to Alfa Romeo for 2022.

English driver Russell, then 23, earned the switch to the Silver Arrows after three impressive campaigns with Williams.

Commenting on his blockbuster transfer, Russell said: “It’s a special day for me personally and professionally.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely buzzing. It’s a huge opportunity and one I want to grab with both hands.

“But I’m under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge; it’s going to be a steep learning curve.

“I want to do my new team-mates proud. Of course, one of those new team-mates is in my opinion the greatest driver of all time.

“I’ve looked up to Lewis since I was in go-karts and the opportunity to learn from someone who has become a role model both on and off track can only benefit me as a driver, a professional, and a human being.”

In a message posted on Instagram, seven-time world champion Hamilton said: “I want to take a moment to welcome George Russell to the team.

“I remember meeting him when he was young, dreaming of one day being a Formula One driver. I’d only just reached my own dream of becoming an F1 driver, so I know what this day means and how it will feel for him.

“He is a great example to all the kids out there that dreams do come true when you chase them wholeheartedly.

“Through hard work he has rightly earned his spot on our team. I look forward to seeing him grow as a driver with this great team and working with him to raise Mercedes higher. See you next year.”

In his first season with Mercedes, Russell landed his maiden victory at the penultimate round in Brazil. He also outscored Hamilton.

Ahead of last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, Mercedes announced Russell, 25, will continue to partner Hamilton, 38, at Mercedes until at least the end of 2025.

Lewis Hamilton apologised to Oscar Piastri after he admitted he was “totally at fault” for his collision with the McLaren rookie in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.

Hamilton was hit with a five-second penalty for the coming together at the Variante della Roggia as the two drivers duelled for eighth on lap 41 of 51 in Monza.

Hamilton improved to sixth and was able to pull out a seven-second margin on Williams’ Alex Albon to ensure the sanction had no impact on his result.

However, Piastri, 22, suffered front-wing damage and was forced to stop for repairs, dropping him out of the points. “He just turned across me under braking,” said Piastri on the radio.

Hamilton, who was also hit with two penalty points on his driver’s licence, doubling his total to four, went over to Piastri to concede his error at the chequered flag.

“It was totally my fault,” said Hamilton, 38. “It actually wasn’t intentional. I went and apologised to him straight afterwards.

“I got up alongside him and just misjudged the gap I had to the right and clipped him. It could happen at any time.

“I knew shortly afterwards it must have been my fault and I wanted to make sure he knew it wasn’t intentional. That’s what gentleman do.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had no complaints with the stewards’ verdict and praised his superstar driver for taking accountability.

“That was Lewis’ mistake,” said Wolff. “I think a five-second penalty for that is what the menu says. These things happen, you know. It’s hard racing and we’ve seen a few of these. It’s justifiable.

“Lewis is very sportsmanlike on these things. And he is the only one that I see out there admitting things that he did wrong.

“We just had a chat and he said ‘I didn’t see him on the right and that is on me.’ And I think that kind of sportsmanship is what you need to admire with him. Pretty much everyone else is complaining and moaning to try to avoid getting a penalty.”

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz beat Max Verstappen to top spot in final practice for the Italian Grand Prix.

Sainz’s lap in the closing moments of the one-hour running in Monza drew a huge roar from the tifosi, providing the Ferrari faithful with hope a scarlet car might secure pole position at the team’s home event.

Sainz, who was also quickest in Friday’s second running, saw off Verstappen by 0.086 seconds. Lewis Hamilton finished third for Mercedes.

Charles Leclerc made a mistake on his speediest lap and had to settle for fourth, half-a-second slower than team-mate Sainz.

Verstappen is bidding to become the first driver to win 10 consecutive races, but Ferrari appear to have a car capable of denying the Dutchman pole.

For Hamilton, the seven-time world champion will be pleased to be back at the sharp end of the pack after he finished 17th in practice on Friday.

However, the British driver was still 0.541 seconds back from Sainz, with team-mate George Russell sixth. Fernando Alonso finished fifth for Aston Martin, with Sergio Perez 10th and McLaren’s Lando Norris 17th.

Qualifying for the 14th round of the season takes place at 4pm (3pm BST).

Lewis Hamilton finished only 17th in practice for the Italian Grand Prix as Sergio Perez crashed out.

Carlos Sainz provided Ferrari’s home fans with reason for cheer by posting the fastest time at the Italian team’s home track in Monza.

The Spaniard, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday, edged out McLaren’s Lando Norris by 0.019 seconds with championship leader Max Verstappen in fifth place, two tenths back.

But seven-time world champion Hamilton, who signed a new £50million-a-year contract with Mercedes earlier this week, ended up only 17th of the 19 drivers who set a time after bemoaning the lack of straight-line speed.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate George Russell finished ninth, 0.821sec slower than Sainz.

While Verstappen has romped to 11 wins from 13 this season – and could become the first driver in history to seal 10 consecutive victories on Sunday – his team-mate Perez has endured a turbulent campaign.

And the Mexican faced more misery here after he lost control of his Red Bull machine through the high-speed Parabolica.

Perez ran on to the gravel on the exit of the corner leading into the main straight and skidded across the sandtrap before nudging the wall.

Perez was able to limp back to the pits but team principal Christian Horner was left grimacing on the Red Bull pit wall.

Before his spin, Perez had displayed encouraging pace – finishing third, 0.185 behind Sainz – and unusually ahead of Verstappen.

Verstappen, 138 points clear in the world standings on his unstoppable march towards a hat-trick of titles, ended the opening running at the top of the time charts. But his best effort in the day’s concluding running was scuppered by traffic.

The 25-year-old wanted to go for another timed lap, only for his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase to tell him “it isn’t qualifying”.

The Dutch driver was also fined 500 euros (£428) for breaking the 50mph pit-lane speed limit by 3mph.

However, given his crushing dominance this year, he will head into the remainder of the weekend as the favourite to land another win and better the record he shares with Sebastian Vettel.

McLaren have bounced back from a poor start to the year following an upgrade at June’s Austrian Grand Prix. Behind Norris in second place, Oscar Piastri finished fourth.

Elsewhere, Charles Leclerc, who won here to the delight of the Tifosi in 2019, was sixth, one place ahead of the ever-impressive Alex Albon in his Williams, with Fernando Alonso eighth for Aston Martin.

Alonso’s team-mate Lance Stroll failed to set a lap after he broke down with a fuel system failure in the opening moments.

Lewis Hamilton said he has “unfinished business” after signing a new £100million contract to extend his Formula One career beyond his 40th birthday.

After months of negotiations, the seven-time world champion finally concluded a new two-year deal – understood to be worth £50m-a-season, a salary hike of £10m – at last weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix.

The announcement ends speculation surrounding the seven-time world champion’s future with his current deal up for renewal at the end of the season.

Hamilton’s extension – which draws him level with Max Verstappen as the grid’s highest earner – will take him to a month shy of his 41st birthday. It will also allow him to continue his pursuit of a record eighth crown.

Hamilton will still be partnered by George Russell after Mercedes also confirmed they 25-year-old’s stay for at least another two years.

“I have had such an incredible journey with Mercedes, and we still have unfinished business,” said Hamilton ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

“We want to get back to the top, and back to fighting for world championships. We are in this together.

“We have a lot of work to do, but there is nowhere else I would rather be. You are all stuck with me for a little bit longer.”

Hamilton has won a record 103 races, and was carried to six of his seven championships by Mercedes, but he has not tasted victory since the controversial Abu Dhabi decider of 2021 – a losing run of 36 races.

Hamilton is fourth in the championship, an eye-watering 183 points behind Verstappen, with Mercedes unable to challenge the Dutchman’s all-conquering team.

Verstappen has won 11 of the 13 rounds so far – with Red Bull unbeaten this season.

But Hamilton added: “It is not about revenge or redemption. Abu Dhabi is in the past and there’s nothing you can do about it.

“In life, you have ups and downs, and last year everyone was questioning whether they wanted to continue. But that thought quickly went away, and you put your mind and energy into being the best you can be.

“I truly believe we can win more world championships and more races together and that’s where all my energy is going.

“I’m not thinking that it’s going to take another four years to get to where we need to be. I’m aware that it does take time.

“But I’m so hopeful the decisions we are taking will put us in that target zone. In my heart I truly believe if it’s not next year it will be the year after that we can challenge.”

Hamilton, who made his F1 debut in 2007 aged 22, once scoffed at the idea of racing into his forties.

But after signing up for his 18th and 19th seasons, he revealed the careers of NFL star Tom Brady, who retired at the age of 45, and Fernando Alonso, who turned 42 last month, is proof he can continue to compete at the highest level.

“I definitely didn’t think I would get to the age that I am and feel the way I do, physically and mentally, and still love what I’m doing as much as I do,” he added. “That’s something I’m incredibly grateful for.

“I look at people like Tom Brady, who has been such an incredible athlete, and has shown what can be done today. He’s a role model in that respect.

“I’ve been fortunate in being able to speak to him and to understand what he has done and what he does consistently to keep himself in shape.

“It is also great seeing Fernando. He was here way before I was and is still doing an amazing job.

“It just shows that your talent never really leaves you so long as you have that passion and commitment to continue.”

Russell joined Hamilton at Mercedes in 2022, out-scoring his team-mate in their first season together.

He also claimed his maiden victory – Mercedes’ sole triumph of last year – at the penultimate round in Brazil.

“Lewis wouldn’t have stayed if he didn’t think the team was capable of winning again,” added Russell. “That reinforces the confidence that I have in the team.”

Lewis Hamilton criticised Formula One’s stewards after he was penalised for colliding with Sergio Perez in Saturday’s rain-hit sprint race in Belgium.

Max Verstappen overcame Oscar Piastri’s impressive challenge to land another win ahead of Sunday’s main event in Spa-Francorchamps.

Piastri finished runner-up with Alpine’s Pierre Gasly a surprise third. Hamilton crossed the line in fourth, but was demoted to seventh after he was dealt a five-second penalty for making contact with Perez as they diced for position through Stavelot.

Perez sustained race-ending damage in the accident – with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner accusing Hamilton of putting a big hole in the side of his driver’s machine.

But Hamilton, drawing on a famous quote from his childhood hero Ayrton Senna, said: “As Ayrton said, if you no longer go for a gap that exists, then you are no longer a racing driver.

“That is what I did. And when I watched it back it feels like a racing incident to me.

“The conditions were tricky out there. We are doing our best and it wasn’t intentional. He was slow and I went up the inside and I was more than half-a-car length alongside.

“I feel like we should not be deterred from racing. It would have been nice to finish fourth but I don’t really care about finishing fourth, I want to win.”

The four FIA stewards here – including former British grand prix driver Derek Warwick – also punished Hamilton with two points on his licence.

Surmising the lap-six flashpoint, the quartet determined: “Hamilton was attempting to pass Perez on the inside at Turn 15.

“While Perez was giving little room on the inside for Hamilton, Hamilton drove onto the kerb and subsequently understeered into Perez. The stewards consider that Hamilton was predominantly at fault for causing a collision.”

However, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff backed his superstar driver, adding: “It was absolutely a racing incident. This is a sprint race. We want to see them racing.

“The argument about the damage isn’t valid because he (Perez) was going backwards before then. Massively backwards. And then when you look at that corner, they were side-by-side, and it takes two to tango. It’s a racing incident. For me that’s really clear.”

The start to Saturday’s dash around Spa-Francorchamps was delayed just six minutes before it was due to begin after the heavens opened. A 30-minute postponement ensued.

One formation lap behind the safety car became five in a bid to make the track safe enough to race with visibility caused by spray a major concern ahead of this weekend’s event.

Only four weeks ago, Dutch 18-year-old Dilano Van ‘t Hoff lost his life after a crash during a rain-hit Formula Regional European Championship race.

The approach from race director Niels Wittich resulted in Saturday’s round being reduced to just 11 laps.

But Wolff added: “You can absolutely understand that everyone wants to play it safe.

“We have had terrible accidents here – the last one under similar conditions in the race where drivers couldn’t see because of the spray. So the approach needed to be on the super-safe side and that was right thing to do.”

By the time the safety car peeled in, the track was good enough for the intermediate tyres. And Piastri benefited from being among 10 of the 20-strong field to change from the full wets before a proper racing lap had even taken place.

Verstappen switched to inters at the end of the first lap round allowing Piastri to lead an F1 race for the first time in his career. But on the sixth lap – following a safety-car period to deal with Fernando Alonso crashing out – Piastri’s defence lasted only a handful of corners.

Verstappen tracked Piastri through the fearsome Eau Rouge-Raidillon section and then blasted by on the Kemmel Straight to claim another win and extend his championship lead from 110 points to 118.

Asked if it was a mistake not to stop for inters at the very start of the race, Verstappen said: “No, it was just a safer call.

“I could have come in first and be blocked by other cars in the pits. We lost one position but we knew we were quick and when we put the inter tyres on we were flying.”

Lewis Hamilton raised the prospect of springing a surprise pole position at the Hungarian Grand Prix after finishing fastest in final practice.

The seven-time world champion ended the concluding one-hour running before qualifying at the Hungaroring 0.250 seconds clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Verstappen, who has won eight of the 10 rounds so far and six in succession, complained about the handling of his Red Bull.

“There is no f****** grip,” said the frustrated two-time world champion over the radio.

Sergio Perez took third spot in the other Red Bull, 0.263 sec adrift of Hamilton, with Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren driver Lando Norris fourth and fifth respectively. Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate George Russell finished sixth three tenths back.

Hamilton only finished 16th on Friday, describing his machine as “at its worst”. But the 38-year-old, who has won more times at the Hungaroring than anybody else and captured his first victory in Mercedes colours at this venue a decade ago, led the way on Saturday to suggest he might be a contender heading into the remainder of the weekend.

Elsewhere, Daniel Ricciardo, back on the grid as a replacement for Nyck De Vries, clocked the 18th quickest time. His new AlphaTauri team-mate Yuki Tsunoda was 20th and last.

Qualifying for Sunday’s 70-lap race starts at 4pm local time (3pm BST).

Lewis Hamilton has criticised Red Bull’s decision to axe Nyck De Vries after just 10 races.

Daniel Ricciardo has been handed a second chance in Formula One, replacing De Vries at Red Bull’s junior team AlphaTauri for the concluding dozen rounds of the year, starting at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday.

De Vries, 28, crashed on multiple occasions and failed to score a single point, with a best finish of 12th in Monaco, before he was handed his marching orders by Red Bull’s ruthless motorsport adviser Helmut Marko 48 hours after he finished 17th and last at the British Grand Prix.

“I am not surprised to see Daniel back but I was surprised to see the decision they took for poor Nyck,” said Hamilton at the Hungaroring.

“He is such a talented young man and a nice guy. The future is bright for him and there will be opportunities for the future. But that is how Red Bull do it.”

When it was suggested to Hamilton that De Vries’ dismissal is a reminder of how F1 works, the seven-time world champion replied: “I would say that is how Red Bull work.”

Ricciardo’s career looked to be all but over after he was dumped by McLaren following two underwhelming seasons with the British team.

But the popular 34-year-old impressed in a test at Silverstone for Red Bull last Tuesday, and given Sergio Perez’s torrid run of form – which has seen him fall 99 points adrift of team-mate Max Verstappen – AlphaTauri’s move to hire the Australian will fuel speculation that he could land a return to the team which carried him to seven of his eight victories.

Speaking at the world champions’ packed motorhome earlier on Thursday, Ricciardo said: “The dream is a Red Bull seat, but there is no ‘this is what you need to do’ to achieve that.

“Given what has happened over the past few years and taking time off, I knew it would be hard to get back in at the top.

“Of course that was my wish, but you need to be realistic, and if I want to get back into Red Bull it will be a process, and this is the best path for me at the moment.

Ricciardo’s reputation in the sport is on the line following his poor period with McLaren which saw the British team move to cancel his contract.

Ricciardo failed to land a seat for the 2023 campaign and instead elected to return to Red Bull as a reserve driver.

But he might struggle to impress with a team currently rooted to the foot of the constructors’ table, taking just two points all season.

However, Ricciardo added: “Over the past few years, I started falling into a trap where I believed the car does not suit me and you can be your own worst enemy. I know this car will have limitations but I will work with that.

“Getting this opportunity is a chance to make things better. That is why I am excited to get back behind the wheel and show my true self.

“I had enough time off to reset and also enjoy it again. Six months ago, I wasn’t at a place to jump at an opportunity like this but that has been the luxury of time.

“I have fallen in love with it again and I feel myself in an environment that provides me with a lot of nostalgia, so when the opportunity came along it was like, ‘let’s try it’.”

Lewis Hamilton's Formula One legacy "will live forever" says Logan Sargeant, who does not anticipate the seven-time world champion will bow out just yet.

After a disappointing 2022 season, Hamilton is once again well behind two-time reigning world champion Max Verstappen in the F1 standings.

While Verstappen has seven race wins to his name already this year, Hamilton has zero, and has only managed three podium placings.

The Mercedes driver sits fourth in the drivers' championship, and there has been speculation that this year might be his last in F1.

Williams driver Sargeant, however, feels Hamilton will stay on, though the American is sure that legendary status has been secured for the Briton.

"I personally think he's going to stay," Sargeant told Stats Perform.

"I think he wants to keep going. I could be wrong.

"His legacy will live forever, he's one of the best ever do it, if not the best, and he's a driver I looked up to through my junior career.

"I'll always have a massive amount of respect for him. His legacy will live forever."

Sargeant, though, does not feel Hamilton or anyone else will be able to compete with Verstappen for this year's title.

He said: "This year, I don't think so. Maybe next year, but it seems like they [Red Bull] have got this year well under control.

"Max is obviously driving amazingly, so I don't think anyone's going to be able to beat them this year unless they have a problem."

Sargeant is experiencing his first season in F1, and conceded it is taking some getting used to.

"It's extremely difficult, as you can imagine, being against 19 of the other best drivers in the world," he said.

"It's so tight from eighth to 20th, and if you put one foot wrong, that can be the difference between getting top 10 or 20th, so that's the biggest challenge just making sure you're at your best every single day, and I feel like it's coming.

"I'm just getting more and more comfortable with it, so the goal is to eventually get to a point where I can extract everything that car has throughout a weekend. That's where I want to get to."

Lewis Hamilton will start Saturday’s sprint race at the Austrian Grand Prix from a lowly 18th.

Hamilton was eliminated in the opening phase of the sprint shootout on Saturday in Spielberg after he had three laps deleted for exceeding track limits.

“That was really bad time usage,” said Hamilton over the radio. “Am I out?”

“Yes we are,” replied his race engineer Pete Bonnington.

Hamilton had been leading the way in Q1 before he had a hat-trick of laps chalked off by race director Niels Wittich for running all four wheels of his Mercedes over the white line at the final bend.

Hamilton tumbled down the order and was knocked out at the first hurdle of qualifying for only the second time in the last six years.

Today’s 23-lap sprint race takes place at 4:30pm local time (3:30 BST).

Damon Hill has praised Lewis Hamilton for the “admirable” way he “kept his chin up” after the controversy of Abu Dhabi – and believes the Mercedes man is “absolutely motivated” to win a record eighth world title.

Eighteen months have passed since Hamilton lost out to Max Verstappen at the contentious season finale, with his Dutch rival going on to take last year’s title too.

And Verstappen, 69 points clear in this season’s championship, is primed to complete his hat-trick.

Hamilton, 38, has not won a race since the penultimate round of the 2021 campaign – the longest losing streak of his career – but he heads to this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix following two consecutive podium finishes in his revamped Mercedes machine.

“It is admirable the way Lewis kept his chin up after what happened in Abu Dhabi,” Hill, the 1996 world champion, told the PA news agency.

“He got back on with the task in hand and he is driving better again this year than he has done before. He is starting to gel with that car now and he has solved some of the problems he faced.

“So I would be amazed if he doesn’t want to go out on a high by winning that eighth title, and he is absolutely motivated by that. He has got that longevity and he looks after himself.

“He needs a competitive car, half-a-chance, and someone like Lewis will rise up to that challenge and find more in himself. At the moment we are seeing a happier Hamilton, and a happy Hamilton is a fast Hamilton.”

The British driver’s future on the grid, however, remains a hot topic of speculation.

Hamilton has entered the final six months of his current £40million-a-season contract with Mercedes. But despite a string of recent discussions with team principal Toto Wolff, a conclusion to the saga is not understood to be imminent.

“The talk is that Lewis is finalising a much longer-term deal that goes beyond his racing career,” added Hill, 62.

“The car company itself is involved, so there is a bit more bureaucracy in this deal.”

Hamilton is already 93 points behind Verstappen in the standings after the Red Bull driver raced to his sixth victory from eight rounds to equal Ayrton Senna’s career tally of 41 wins last time out in Canada.

Following Verstappen’s triumph, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said his star driver must now be considered among Formula One’s all-time greats.

“Comparing different eras is quite difficult,” said Hill, who was speaking at his Halow Project charity event in Sandown following a world-first kart run on Zero synthetic fuel.

“They do many more races than they used to in the sport. But, nevertheless, in every era there are one or two drivers who are the cream of the crop, and you have to say Max is one of them, along with Lewis and Fernando (Alonso).

“I certainly see him having his own era called ‘the Max Verstappen era’ where he wins practically everything.

“If you appreciate great drivers and the job they do then it is great to watch. But I understand people want to see a race and not a demonstration and we have to be patient and hope the others catch him up pretty quickly.”

Lando Norris wanted to turn the air blue following his accident with Lewis Hamilton at the Spanish Grand Prix – but stressed his compatriot did not do anything wrong.

Norris started third after a fine performance in qualifying, but his race was over inside two corners when he drove into the back of Hamilton’s Mercedes.

Norris was forced to pit for a new front wing, relegating him to the back of the field. The 23-year-old Briton eventually took the chequered flag in 17th place. Hamilton continued without damage, finishing runner-up to Max Verstappen.

Asked what went through his mind following his first-lap prang, Norris said: “F***. Max [Verstappen] went off the track and a bit wide, so he had to bounce over the kerb at Turn 2. Everybody checked up and I was too close to Lewis to react and brake so it was just unlucky in my opinion, and a racing incident.

“Lewis didn’t do anything wrong. I touched his wheel, nothing happened to him, maybe it made him quicker today.”

Following a brief resurgence, McLaren are on something of a downward spiral. Norris has scored only a dozen points from the opening seven rounds, leaving him 11th in the standings.

And the highly-rated Briton, who is under contract with McLaren until the end of 2025, painted a gloomy picture for the remainder of the campaign.

“The pace was as expected as it was today which was bad,” he said. “I don’t think we expected anything else.

“We were slow and we have been all year. Yesterday was a special day. Some of the good teams struggled and some of the worst teams did a better job. People made mistakes and we capitalised on that.

“But we are clearly nowhere near as quick as the top-five teams so there is no point thinking about finishing in the points because we are not quick enough.

“There are no new parts on the car. We had a upgrade in Baku and that was about it. It maybe brought us half-a-tenth to a tenth.

“A lot of teams have brought upgrades to the last few races and we haven’t. We are not expecting anything more than we are doing and if we get in the points it is an amazing day but the expectation is that we won’t.”

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