Lewis Hamilton was full of optimism on Friday that he can still win a race this season to uphold a record of at least one grand prix success every year since his debut in 2007.
Mercedes have endured a roller-coaster campaign with their capricious 2022 car, but the seven-time world champion has come close to getting a win on the board, most recently at Zandvoort last weekend.
“I do believe that I have the chance this year, we’ve still got seven races to go, and that’s still a really big goal for us as a team to get back to the front and be fighting for the lead,” he said at Monza ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
The Briton’s pursuit of the chequered flag in Italy has been hampered by a grid penalty for an engine change, his fourth power unit of the year.
“My third engine that I had, brand new, in Spa, is still being worked on, so I can’t use it right now, so I have to take a fourth,” he explained, referring to the first lap collision with Fernando Alonso’s Alpine at the Belgium Grand Prix.
“That’s my doing. We’re still hopeful we can use that later on. But I have to recover the best I can from the back,” he added.
While a never before accomplished eighth world title looks beyond him this year as he lags 152 points behind Red Bull’s runaway series leader Max Verstappen, Hamilton’s demeanour suggested he still believed there was plenty to look forward to in the tail end of this season.
“I feel as good as I can feel,” he said.
“Of course, you’d always feel better if you came off a win but still, we’ve been making so much progress as a team, we’ve closed the gap more and more – at least we’re closing the gap more and more – weekend after weekend.
“Of course, we don’t know how the car will be this weekend, whether or not it will be as good as it was in the last race, we’ll find out.”
Despite his hopes of a win he made plain that maintaining the record of the only driver to win a race in every season was of no personal significance.
“Honestly, it has zero importance to me, so I’m grateful that each year, we have had since 2007 an opportunity to win,” he said.
“I’m not focused on the record, but of course I’m trying to get that win this year. But the record is not that important for me because I don’t really care about records in general,” clarified Hamilton.
Confirming the engine switch Mercedes tweeted: “Lewis has taken a new Power Unit for this event – his fourth of the season – and will take a grid penalty for Sunday’s race”.
The rules allow each driver three power units a year – they can make further changes but at a cost in the form of some sort of grid penalty.
“It has not yet been confirmed whether the seven-time champion will be relegated to the back of the grid,” reported the Formula One website.
Mick Schumacher also picks up a penalty for Sunday’s race after his team Haas announced a gearbox change for his car.