Lewis Hamilton thinks it’s very likely Red Bull are already in a period of Formula 1 dominance similar to the era he enjoyed with Mercedes from 2014 until 2020.

After Max Verstappen controversially beat Hamilton to the Drivers’ Championship in 2021, the Dutchman’s looked increasingly dominant during the 2022 season and looks set to take his second world title.

“They are already on that way,” Hamilton said when asked if the Austrian team could match the feats he managed with Mercedes.

“The chances are very high that that’s already happened, it’s going to be very tough for teams to close that gap.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez during 2022 Belgian Grand Prix | Pool via REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

The secret to success

Hamilton said the formula that powered Mercedes to 15 world championships since they returned to the sport ten years ago now looks to have passed to Red Bull.

The, then, 27-year-old was ridiculed by some in the F1 paddock when he announced his move to Mercedes in 2012, after he’d spent his whole junior and F1 career at McLaren up to that point.

However, the move paid off with Mercedes stealing a march on the all-new regulations for 2014 and went on to clean up the rest of the 2010s. They were only dethroned by the hugely debated events at the end of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which led to Michael Masi losing his job as race director.

In the biggest upheaval in regulations since the start of the Mercedes era, Red Bull and Verstappen are now heavy favourites for both championships this season.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after the start of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix | REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

“If your car is fast one year, it evolves into a faster car the next year,” Hamilton added.

“So the gap they have now will be very hard for anyone from third down to ever close in this cycle of car design.”

“But we have won the last eight world [constructors’] titles. As a team, we’ve got amazing and talented engineers.

“There are limitations with budget and wind tunnel and CFD time and we have to be very clear and precise in the direction we want to go and very efficient in our time.”