Lewis Hamilton conceded there was 'nothing' he could do to stop Max Verstappen extending his F1 Championship lead with victory at the Mexican Grand Prix.
After Mercedes had surprisingly out-performed Red Bull in qualifying, Hamilton would have gone into Sunday's race hopeful of eating into the 12 points which separated him and Verstappen. However, in an exhilarating start the Dutch driver came from third on the grid to pass both his British rival and Valtteri Bottas.
From there he never relinquished his lead, producing a dominant drive as Hamilton, 36, was left hanging on to second place despite late pressure from Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez.
The result extended the 24-year-old's advantage in the title race to 19 points, with just four 2021 races remaining in Brazil, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton is now in dire need of a response this weekend in Sao Paulo, but speaking to reporters after the race, he seemed perturbed at Red Bull's superior pace.
"First, congratulations to Max," he said.
"Their car is far superior this weekend and there was nothing we could really do about it. I gave it absolutely everything and it was a great fight with Sergio (Perez) at the end. I was able to at least get second.
"It shows how fast car their car is when Sergio is right behind me and able to follow that closely. He did a great job and he was applying that pressure and just kept going. I really enjoyed the race still."
While he remains firmly in the title picture, the omens don't look good for Hamilton as he bids to become the first F1 driver in history to claim eight world titles.
Verstappen's victory on Sunday was his ninth in 18 races so far this season. Only one driver who has won so many races in a year has ever gone on to lose the championship, and that was Hamilton himself when he was edged out by Nico Rosberg in 2016.
The Mercedes man has also now won just once in his past eight races, and that came when heavy downpours scuppered leader Lando Norris in Russia, allowing Hamilton and a host of others to pass him as the McLaren man tired tried to stay out on dry-weather tyres.
For his part, Verstappen isn't getting carried away, telling Sky Sports: "It's of course looking good, but also it can turn around real quickly."
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