SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 05: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W14 and Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL60 Mercedes at the restart after a red flag delay during the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 05, 2023 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Hamilton expects Red Bull to rule F1 “for next couple of years”

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 05: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W14 and Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL60 Mercedes at the restart after a red flag delay during the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 05, 2023 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton expects rivals Red Bull to be well clear of the the Formula 1 field for years to come after his Mercedes team suffered their worst performance in more than a year, at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix on Sunday

Seven-time F1 World Champion, Hamilton, an honorary Brazilian citizen, finished eighth with teammate George Russell, retiring in the race at Interlagos.

Mercedes F1 team principal Toto Wolff declared the result “unacceptable” after his team’s worst showing since the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix, on that night Hamilton and Russell finished P9 and P14 respectively

“We’re losing so much time on the straights, there’s nothing I can do about it, and then we’re just sliding through the corners,” Hamilton told reporters at Interlagos.

Last year in Brazil, Russell won for Mercedes with Hamilton finishing second, but in this year’s edition of the race, nobody could beat Red Bull and Max Verstappen.

The Dutch driver has dominated the 2023 F1 season, taking a record-extending 17th victory on Sunday after securing his third F1 world title last month in Qatar with six grands prix and two sprint races to spare.

“The Red Bull is so far away, I think they’re probably going to be very clear for the next couple of years,” ventured Hamilton, who indicated he was counting down the days to be free of this season’s car. Formula 1’s next major rule change is not until 2026.

Wolff: We’re changing the car completely

Mercedes 'worry' for F1 2024 identified after woeful Brazil Grand Prix Wolff: We're changing the car completely hamilton

In the battle for runner-up behind Verstappen, Hamilton is fighting Red Bull’s Sergio Perez for second place overall, but the Mexican outscored him in Sao Paulo and now leads by 32 points with two races remaining.

Wolff said the Brazil race showed Mercedes had to make fundamental changes for next year: “Totally baffling. We are a proper structure, solid team, and that didn’t look like a solid team.”

Hamilton said that ultimately all he could do was try to remain optimistic, but his boss Wolff voiced a different stance: “In 13 years I’ve never felt optimistic or confident, but it’s maybe more my problem and my brain.

“What we know is that we’re changing the car completely,” said Wolff, whose team won eight consecutive constructors’ championships between 2014 and 2021.

Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner suggested McLaren, who had Lando Norris finish second in Brazil and use Mercedes engines, could be contenders next season: “It’s been different people at different times during the year.

“So, I think we just keep focusing on ourselves and whoever’s behind us on the timesheet is almost irrelevant. As long as we’re at the top of it, that’s what we’re focused on,” added Wolff. (Reporting by Gabriel Araujo)