“Not Gonna Make Big Difference to My Life”: Lewis Hamilton Refuses Rat Race With Checo Perez to Focus on Team Game

Published 10/30/2023, 8:48 AM EDT

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In Formula 1, drivers fight for two things—their team’s glory and their own. Basically, the sport is a fight to become the benchmark, the pace-setter. Is there any better term to describe that fight than a ‘rat race?’ F1 is nothing but a power struggle, one that Max Verstappen and Red Bull have run away with this season. Be that as it may, the fight for second place is just as crucial—in the individual and the team game. Who’s gunning for P2 in both those races? Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. At the Mexican GP, the seven-time champion set his priorities straight.

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To think that Hamilton hasn’t won a race in almost two years sounds absurd, don’t you agree? While Hamilton and Mercedes—the team that dominated the sport for seven years—are trying to get back to winning ways as soon as possible, Hamilton couldn’t be bothered about his individual fight.

Sergio Perez is the last thing on Lewis Hamilton’s mind

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Despite Mercedes’ poor form this season, the Brackley outfit is P2 in the championship. Despite Red Bull’s near-invincible form this season, Sergio Perez is struggling to hold onto P2 in the Drivers’ Championship. Comparing these two situations, you can imagine the general feeling in both teams right now. Although Verstappen and Red Bull have already sealed the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship, everything else is all to play for, and Lewis Hamilton is a protagonist in both.

When F1 returned after the summer break, Hamilton said, My goal is to try and figure out how to have the best 10 races I have ever had in the second half of the season. We’ll be maximizing points every weekend, holding onto second in the Constructors’ Championship. And chasing down Perez—that’s my goal.” While the former is still what he’s intent on working toward, catching Perez isn’t occupying any headspace. Considering Hamilton and Mercedes realized early on that Red Bull isn’t its rival this season, Hamilton revealed his potential P2 finish in the Drivers’ Championship will be dependent on Perez’s performances.

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Following the Mexican GP—where Perez DNF’d and Hamilton finished in P2—the gap between them is just 20 points. After the race, the Brit said, Honestly, it’s not gonna make a big difference to my life whether I come second or third. It’s more important to get the team second in the Constructors’.” That’s the one I’m focused on.” Considering Ferrari got a better result compared to Mercedes in Mecixo, the Scuderia has closed down the gap further. They’re just 22 points adrift of Mercedes with three races to go.

Although Hamilton may have abstained from engaging in the rat race for P2 against Perez, that didn’t stop him from comparing the Mexican to himself at the Mexican GP.

Perez reminded Lewis Hamilton of Qatar at the Mexican GP

At the Qatar GP this year, Hamilton lined up in P3 behind Verstappen in P1 and George Russell in P2. When the lights went out, Hamilton got the best start of the trio and got a sniff at the race lead going into the outside of Turn 1. What he didn’t realize was how close Russell was to him. He turned in on his teammate—who was stuck between Hamilton and Verstappen—and effectively ended his race right there. What happened at the Mexican GP was eerily similar.

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With Perez starting in P5, Verstappen in P3, and Charles Leclerc in P1, both Red Bulls got a mega start. Going into Turn 1, all three of them were side by side. Perez saw an opening and took it. Like Hamilton, he didn’t realize Leclerc was on the inside, between him and Verstappen. Perez turned into the Monegasque, and his home race ended as soon as it started. In the cool-down room after Verstappen, Hamilton, and Leclerc finished on the podium, Hamilton saw footage of the incident. When he saw Perez turning in on Leclerc, he couldn’t help but say, “Where’s he going?! Sh*t he did me in Qatar!”

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WATCH THIS STORY | Lewis Hamilton’s Charitable Masterpiece, Sergio Perez’s Mexican Tribute – F1 Drivers Get Creative With Monaco GP Lids

With how Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez have been performing, do you think Hamilton could beat Perez to P2 in the Driver’s title?

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan

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One take at a time

Aditi is a senior F1 writer at EssentiallySports. She fell in love with F1 in 2020. It happened when her brother tuned into that first race weekend in Austria, and she knew right then and there that she had to learn everything she could about the sport.
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Edited by:

Aishwary Gaonkar

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