LEWIS HAMILTON has offered a bleak assessment of Mercedes’ chances this season.
That’s after his team’s dreadful start to the new Formula One campaign.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton was hoping to make up for last term with a quick start at the opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
But he was way off the pace with a fifth-place finish as champion Max Verstappen took gold.
Teammate George Russell could only come seventh as their Mercedes cars lagged behind.
And team chiefs have reportedly demanded to see an immediate improvement in performance.
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Mercedes will now be hoping for a faster showing at this weekend’s GP in Saudi Arabia.
But Hamilton reckons his team stand no chance of catching Verstappen’s Red Bull, with Ferrari the only rival in the running.
He said: “In the race [in Bahrain] they [Red Bull] were not pushing so they were a lot quicker than they seemed.
“They are a second-and-a-half a lap faster in the race. They will run away with it this year unless Ferrari can stop them.”
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Indeed, earlier this month Hamilton revealed he warned Mercedes they were miles off the pace last year.
He said: “Last year, I told them the issues that are with the car.
“Like, I’ve driven so many cars in my life, so I know what a car needs, I know what a car doesn’t need.
“And I think it’s really about accountability, it’s about owning up and saying ‘yeah, you know what, we didn’t listen to you, it’s not where it needs to be and we’ve got to work’.
“We’ve got to look into the balance through the corners, look at all the weak points and just huddle up as a team, that’s what we do.
“We’re still multi world champions you know, it’s just they haven’t got it right this time, they didn’t get it right last year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get it right moving forwards.”
Source: Motorsport - thesun.co.uk