Lewis Hamilton: Title chances don't look great, says three-time champion

Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton will be hoping to bounce back at the British GP, which is live on the BBC Sport website and BBC Radio 5 live

Lewis Hamilton admits he faces an uphill struggle to win a fourth world title this year after finishing fourth in Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.

He is 20 points behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who finished second at the Red Bull Ring behind Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton said: "I don't have a crystal ball but it doesn't look great.

"There is a long way to go. The bigger the gap gets, the more the pressure builds."

Yet Hamilton recovered from eight on the grid, after a five-place penalty for making an unauthorised gearbox change, and added that there were some positives.

"Twenty points behind is 20 points behind," he said. "It's not great but it could be 30-something today. Of course, there is a hit when you get a penalty and start eighth rather than third. It makes a difference but it is not the end of the world. I got the best points I could."

Lewis Hamilton has his headrest replaced in Baku
Hamilton's headrest came loose in the last race in Baku, costing him a chance of victory

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said that Bottas' victory had done Hamilton a favour because it took points away from Vettel.

"For Lewis, it was actually the best outcome that Valtteri wins the race rather than Sebastian," Wolff said.

"It was important for him to take the points home even if for him it feels like a loss today.

"It can't really come much worse. A safe lead in Baku [two weeks ago] lost by a tiny little thing [the headrest coming loose]. Then while still recovering, you need to take a gearbox penalty on a track that is not completely bad for overtaking but not great. Overall, not the best days."

Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton pose for a celebration shot after the Austrian GP
Putting a brave face on - Hamilton 'celebrates' with race winner Bottas

Bottas' victory moves him to within 15 points of Hamilton and the Finn said he "believed" he could win the title in his first year at Mercedes.

"For me, since the day I signed with Mercedes, what else can you put as a target?" the Finn said.

"It has always been the target. but I don't want to shout about it too much.

"It is still early days in the championship and with more than 50% of the season to go, so there are a massive amount of points to get - and with this team, I am developing so much every single race."

Sebastian Vettel
In every season Vettel has led the drivers' World Championship he has gone onto to win the title

Vettel said: "I don't really care. Obviously, I'm not too happy today because I didn't win. I had the clear aim today to win and didn't quite make it. It was very tight.

"Points-wise, I know that the higher-up you finish, the better it is with points but whether it's Valtteri, Lewis or someone else, I think you're fighting anyone out there for the race. That's been the primary target today, for the past races and will be for the next races.

"Then I think you change your minds fairly quickly in terms of who is a contender and who is not. We're still quite early, there are a lot of points to get, so I'm not too bothered at the moment."

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