Lewis Hamilton admits he will be “happy” to see the back of Mercedes’ 2023 Formula 1 car after enduring a troublesome time in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix Sprint race.

Despite running second and fourth in the early exchanges, both Hamilton and team-mate George Russell struggled for pace during the 24-lap encounter at Interlagos.

While Russell secured fourth, Hamilton was overhauled by Charles Leclerc and Yuki Tsunoda to finish a lowly seventh, ending up 34.7s behind race winner Max Verstappen.

Mercedes had appeared to be making genuine progress in recent rounds, with Hamilton coming within 2.2s of beating Verstappen on track in Austin before also landing second in Mexico City last weekend.

The Brackley-based squad’s latest setback under this regulation cycle prompted the seven-time champion to reiterate that he was “counting down the days” until next year.

“I mean the last couple of races we’ve been excited that we’ve been progressing, it’s been really positive to see and we come to another track and then you have the worst deg that you’ve had for ages,” Hamilton rued.

“So it’s like you don’t know what to expect but only a couple more races with this car then it’s gone so I’ll be happy. This year you’re just counting down the days. Trying to enjoy every day.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. 04.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sprint Day.

Hamilton concedes that he was struggling with the balance of his W14 as soon as the race settled down, which also contributed to the severe tyre degradation he suffered.

“It was a very tough race. I don’t know. I think we got a good start then balance…tried to get [the] right balance of the wing,” he said.

“Just a lot of understeer, snap oversteer and tyres just dropped off. In mid-sector, huge understeer. Don’t know whether we got set-up wrong, probably got set-up wrong but it is what it is.”

The presence of the Sprint format this weekend meant the teams had only one practice hour to optimise their set-ups before the restrictions of parc ferme were imposed.

However, Hamilton has denied that he is against the revised schedule, contending that his current exasperation lies entirely with Mercedes’ uncompetitive standing.

“It’s not frustrating [the Sprint]. It’s frustrating that the car is the way it is,” he argued. “You tell me if it was exciting or boring I don’t know. I don’t watch the Sprint races. I enjoy the Sprint weekends, I would enjoy it more when the car is good then you get to fight.”

While Russell believes the prospect of cooler track conditions could aid Mercedes on Sunday, Hamilton, who will start the grand prix fifth, has rebuffed his team-mate’s claim.

“I don’t think that’s going to do much for us, it’s one of those circuits that’s challenging for tyres but that’s the worst deg I’ve ever had here in,” the Briton relayed. “I don’t know the last time I had that much deg here.

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