Lewis Hamilton had predicted that Red Bull will remain the dominant force in Formula 1 until the end of the current rules cycle after the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
At Interlagos, Max Verstappen banked a 17th win from 20 Grands Prix to set the all-time record for highest percentage of wins in a season at 77%. He's also won four of the six Sprints this season.
The Red Bull driver has won 42 Grands Prix since the start of the 2021 season, with Hamilton next best on eight with Verstappen having usurped his status as 'the man to beat' in the ground effects era.
While the three-time champion was busy winning, the seven-time one endured a difficult day in the Mercedes W14, coming home nearly a minute behind in eighth place as Mercedes looks set to go winless for the first time since 2011, while Hamilton must win in Las Vegas or Abu Dhabi to avoid a second successive winless campaign of his own.
But he does not feel anyone will be able to step up and challenge Verstappen or Red Bull until the 2026 rule reset.
Viewed by others:
Hamilton's Red Bull prediction
"Ultimately, all I can do is try to remain optimistic," Hamilton told media including RacingNews365.
"The Red Bull is so far away, and I think they're probably going to be very clear for the next couple of years."
Reflecting on his race, Hamilton explained how he knew Mercedes would be in for a tough day, and pointed towards the floor as a possible cause of the problems.
"I knew that it would be a difficult day, nothing changed on the car [from the Sprint and in it, I ate through the tyres," he said.
"My guess is that the floor was not working, it is something we rely on and so that pushed us to go to a higher rear-wing, which is massively draggy on the straights.
"We were losing too much time on the straights and there was nothing I could do about it and then we were sliding into the corners - so we will have to look into why that was the case.
"Ultimately, it is a setback, but as a team, we'll just come together and try to push forwards.
"There'll be a lot of analysis this week and I'm sure there'll be things where we're like: 'We should have maybe done this, it would have been a little better', but ultimately, the car didn't work for some reason, and that is the way it is."
Do you agree with Lewis Hamilton? Will Red Bull be uncatchable in both 2024 and 2025? Let us know in the comments and by voting in the poll!