Lewis Hamilton on Max Verstappen stroll: It's never great when F1 title race finishes early

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who is yet to win a race in 2022, has said he feels sorry for Formula One that Max Verstappen could romp to the world championship with five races remaining.

The Red Bull driver will have his first shot at sealing back-to-back titles at Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix.

Verstappen, who turns 25 on Friday, will be crowned champion if he wins under the lights of the Marina Bay circuit and sets the fastest lap, and team-mate Sergio Perez and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc both finish lower than fourth and eighth respectively.

During last year's captivating title battle, Verstappen denied Hamilton a record eighth crown at a deeply contentious season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton, 37, has been unable to match the unstoppable Verstappen, with his brilliant Red Bull machinery in a class of one this year after a major overhaul in the sport's regulations.

Hamilton is 167 points behind Verstappen in the standings.

"I definitely feel for the fans because going right down to the wire last year was so intense for everybody and it is never great when the season finishes early," said Hamilton.

"For you as the individual, it's great - I won the title in Mexico with races to spare - but for the actual sport it's not spectacular.

"I'm really grateful to have had my championship win in 2008 go right down to the last 17 seconds and obviously last year was pretty much the same thing too. Let's hope for the future it's a bit better."

Verstappen has won 11 of the 16 rounds staged this season, including the last five races. Another triumph here would take his career tally to 32, moving him to sixth in the all-time list alongside Fernando Alonso.

Max Verstappen speaks to media

But Verstappen does not believe it is a formality that he will become the 17th driver to win the F1 title on more than one occasion on Sunday.

"I am not really thinking about the championship," he said. "It is a long shot and I just want to enjoy the weekend.

"I need a lot of luck for it to happen, so it is unrealistic. I am not really counting on it happening."

F1 is back in Singapore for the first time since the pandemic. The sport then heads to Suzuka for next weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, with races in Austin, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi to follow.

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