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Hamilton concerned Red Bull 'hasn't touched' F1 car since August

Lewis Hamilton is concerned about the size of the recovery facing Mercedes given Red Bull dominated Formula 1’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix despite having not "touched the car since August".

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Aside from a half-hearted lunge from Charles Leclerc on the opening lap, polesitter Max Verstappen controlled events throughout the Yas Marina season finale to win over the Ferrari by 17.993 seconds.

With Sergio Perez penalised from second to fourth for hitting Lando Norris, George Russell completed the podium 20.328s adrift to narrowly seal the runner-up spot in the constructors’ championship for Mercedes.

Meanwhile, after being eliminated in Q2 to start 11th, Hamilton finished ninth - having lost the rear of the W14 on the final lap to fail in his bid to overtake Yuki Tsunoda.

The downbeat seven-time world champion reckoned the scale of Red Bull’s dominance, given it has not brought a performance upgrade since the Dutch GP in last August, should be a “concern”.

“Not great,” he said of his mood. “I just finished ninth; two really bad races [seventh in Las Vegas].

“Red Bull won by 17 seconds and have not touched the car since August. So, you can pretty much guess where they're going to be next year… I was just slow throughout the race.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG,

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG,

Red Bull is known to have switched early to developing its 2024 car.

Asked by Sky Sports F1 what could be taken away from a trying 2023 campaign, Hamilton continued: “Not too much really. It's not been a great year in general. So, there's not a lot to take from the year. The fact that I survived it… that's about it."

Addressing the prospect of Mercedes overcoming its ground-effects slump to take the fight to Red Bull next season, Hamilton added: “[Red Bull] haven't even developed their car since August; it’s definitely a concern.

“But we've learned a lot about the car and it's just down to the team now and they know what they need to do. Whether or not we'll get there, we'll see.”

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During the race, Hamilton - who tapped Pierre Gasly to damage his Merc’s front wing endplate - had called out former McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso for brake-checking him on lap 37 out of 58.

This move from Alonso was looked into by the stewards, who decided no further action was needed.

Hamilton explained: “We were flat out at 400m, 300m before the corner and doing 180mph and the guy all of a sudden slows down drastically ahead of me.”

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