Japanese GP: Lewis Hamilton congratulates Max Verstappen on world championship as Brit eyes Mercedes improvement
Max Verstappen was crowned world champion for a second successive season after winning the Japanese GP on Sunday; Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in rain-shortened Suzuka race; Mercedes are hoping to return to contention next year after a disappointing 2022 campaign
Last Updated: 09/10/22 9:36pm
Lewis Hamilton says he has "no doubt" that Mercedes will build a better car for 2023, after congratulating Max Verstappen on sealing a second successive world championship.
Hamilton was denied an eighth title as Verstappen claimed his maiden drivers' championship in controversial circumstances last year, but the Brit was never in contention this season.
Mercedes have largely been unable to match the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari following the introduction of new design regulations for 2022 but are hoping to return to the front of the grid next year.
- Verstappen wins chaotic, rain-shortened Japanese GP to clinch title
- Verstappen crowned champion amid F1 confusion | 'Second title more beautiful'
- Gasly, F1 drivers furious at tractor on track | 'It's unacceptable'
"Congrats to Max," said Hamilton, who has yet to win a race this season.
"I think for us, we know what the problems are with this car.
"I believe that we as a team, we've not gone from being world champions to not being able to build a good car. I have no doubts we'll build a better car next year.
"Whether or not we rectify the issues from this year, we'll find out when we get there."
Verstappen was crowned amid confusing circumstances after winning a chaotic rain-shortened Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.
There was huge confusion at the chequered flag as to whether partial or full points would be awarded with only 29 of the scheduled 53 laps having been completed.
However, a decision was made to award full points, meaning Verstappen's triumph was sealed with four races of the season remaining.
"Red Bull obviously did an amazing job with the car this year," Hamilton added. "Big congrats to the whole team, and to Max."
'I don't feel frustrated, I had a blast!'
Hamilton started sixth and gained an early position after Carlos Sainz crashed out, but was unable to get past Esteban Ocon despite closely trailing the Alpine for most of the race.
The Brit repeatedly closed to Ocon's rear, but Mercedes' lack of straight-line speed left him unable to pull off an overtake on the main straights.
"I don't feel frustrated," Hamilton said. "It was a sprint race. I did the best I could and I'm happy that we at least got some points today.
"We were just so slow in a straight line. I was getting as close as I could, but as soon as I pulled out, they would just pull away.
"I wish it was a longer race. I'm glad that we got some laps for the fans here, although it's not really a massive race for them considering how long they waited."
Hamilton refused to comment on a controversial incident at the start of the race which saw a recovery vehicle on track at the same time as the cars, provoking angry responses from several drivers.
However, the 37-year-old did praise the race directors for deciding to let the race resume after a two-hour plus stoppage because of the rain.
"In terms of conditions, just restarting, I think it was awesome - that's what motor racing is about," Hamilton said.
"I had a blast. It was so tough, so hard to see, really hard to see the car skating around, but that's motor racing.
"I think the restart that we had at the end was probably perfect timing and I just wish we could have gone longer."