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Hamilton on Red Bull’s F1 dominance: 'It's likely they will win every race'

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MONTREAL — Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton says he's come to terms with the possibility of not winning a race this season.

The Red Bull car is just too good.

Red Bull is a perfect eight for eight this year after Max Verstappen won the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday, with the Dutch driver landing atop the podium six times and teammate Sergio Perez twice.

"It's not a frustration anymore, if it ever was. It's how it is," said Hamilton, a Mercedes driver. "You know what you're faced with, and there's nothing I can do about their amazing performance.

"It's likely that they will win every race moving forward this year unless (Aston Martin) and us put a lot more performance on the cars or their car doesn't finish."

With 14 races still left on the calendar, the Formula One championships are virtually a foregone conclusion. Red Bull is nearly doubling second-place Mercedes in the constructors' standings with 321 points to 167 and Verstappen leads his teammate by 69 points on the drivers' side.

Red Bull is so dominant that Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso, who came second Sunday at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, was "very" satisfied to be within nine seconds of Verstappen instead of the usual 20.

Though he's not frustrated, Hamilton wishes he could battle Verstappen and Alonso on a level playing field.

"(I hope) we can get back to some of the good races we had back in 2021, and to have all three of us in a super tight battle would be sick," he said.

But Hamilton has benefited in the past from driving the dominant car on the grid.

The 38-year-old claimed six drivers’ titles during Mercedes' run of eight consecutive constructors' championships from 2014 to 2021.

Amid Mercedes' dominance, Formula One introduced a spending cap in 2021 to make the championship more competitive.

The cap — set at US$135 million in 2023 — covers any expenditures related to the car's performance, but not the engine. Driver salaries are excluded.

Mercedes technical director James Allison believes it's too early to judge the cap's effect on tightening the grid.

"You're going to need to have many more years play out before you'll see the effect," said Allison. "I think, broadly, the cap has been a positive thing for the financial health of the sport and the security of the teams.

"But I think it's too early to say that it's going to have any meaningful effect on compressing the grid."

Red Bull and Mercedes are just the latest on a long list of Formula One dynasties, which includes Ferrari in the 2000s and McLaren through the 1980s.

No team has won every race in a season, however. McLaren came the closest in 1988 by winning 15 of 16. Mercedes won 19 of 21 in 2016.

Now with 22 races this year, Verstappen believes becoming the first team to have a perfect season is out of reach.

"If you look at how we are performing now, yes (it's possible), but it's very unrealistic," said Verstappen. "There will always be things that will go wrong in a season, that may be something out of your control, so I'm not thinking that it's possible."

Verstappen can extend Red Bull's streak to nine at the Austrian Grand Prix on July 2.

Hamilton, meanwhile, will have to settle for focusing on the battle for second place.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2023.