Lewis Hamilton has made the staggering admission that he won't be able to win the F1 championship this year.
The seven-time champion's woes went from bad to worse in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, finishing 13th and lapped by defending world champion Max Verstappen.
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It was an embarrassing new low for the Mercedes superstar, who has struggled with his car so far this season.
And the 37-year-old has dismissed hopes that he will be able to turn things around and challenge Verstappen for the championship in 2022.
Hamilton is now 31 points behind Verstappen in the championship and 58 behind current leader Charles Leclerc.
"I'm out of the championship, for sure," Hamilton said in Italy.
"There's no question about that, but I'll still keep working as hard as I can and try to pull it back together somehow.
“Theoretically yes, it’s still possible, but one has to be realistic.
“The problems we have are not small. The car, in terms of how it drives, the issues we have in the way it behaves… these guys are seconds, over a second ahead. There’s a worst-case scenario.
“If we happen to fix this at the next race, which we don’t currently have anything coming to fix it for the next race, we don’t have a solution just yet.
“Even to design something – if we do find what the solution is and we have to change it – the team will work as hard as it can, but things could take a month in design, and getting those things built could take some time.
“So, I think we just keep our heads down. We remain hopeful. We continue to chase but you just have to try and keep an eye on the realistic position we’re in and just got to work hard to make sure that we’re not in this position next year.”
Currently in his 15th year in Formula 1, Hamilton has never failed to win at least one race in every season and the lowest he's finished in the championship is fifth.
“I’ve never been this far down,” said Hamilton, currently sitting seventh in the overall standings.
“We know how these championships work and with those two teams at the front, the Ferraris and Red Bulls who are punching out serious performance, we’ve got to find a second-and-a-half, at least, soon to be ahead of them, and finish ahead of them every single race for the rest of the year, basically.
“That’s not going to be easy.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 24, 2022
Mercedes boss apologises to Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted the car was not up to standard, despite George Russell finishing fourth at Imola.
"We are not good enough for a world champion, we just need to fix the car," Wolff admitted.
“Lewis deserves better from us. We need to provide him with a machine that is able to fight at the front.
“In a way, I have to protect him. It is not his low. It is the low of the car performance. We know that he is a seven-time world champion.
“The guy is the best driver in the world, and he does not have a machine and the equipment underneath him to be able to execute that.
“It is irrelevant if you come eighth, 12th, or 15th, it doesn’t matter. It is all bad.
“We have to sort this out and stick together through good and bad times, and today was certainly a very bad day.”
Hamilton qualified and finished behind Russell in Saturday’s sprint race, and then crossed the line an agonising one minute adrift of his Mercedes teammate in Sunday’s main event.
“Sorry for what you have had to drive today,” Wolff told Hamilton on team radio. "I know this is undrivable.”
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