Lewis Hamilton admitted Mercedes need the three teams in front of them to all retire if they’re to have a chance at victory in the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, or at any of the early races in the 2023 Formula 1 season.
The Black Arrows made stunning admission that their design concept had failed before they’d even started the Bahrain GP, where Hamilton and George Russell struggled to fifth and seventh-placed finishes helped by Charles Leclerc‘s retirement.
Ahead of the Saudi Arabian GP, Hamilton doubled down on abandoning their 2023 world championship hopes, but added he was hopeful the team could finish the year with some headline results.
“You continue to prepare the same for the races in the sense of your fitness and the mental approach,” Hamilton told the press. “We need the Red Bulls not to finish the race, the Ferraris not to finish the race, maybe now the Astons not to finish the race for us to be winning at the moment but that doesn’t mean we can’t catch them up.
“Hopefully at some point during the year we’re hopeful you might be able to close the gap but at that point of being probably too late in terms of fight for a championship.”
Hamilton pinpoints where Mercedes must improve
Mercedes entered the season aware that they might not contend for race wins immediately, but confident they could get up to speed early on and could mount a title challenge.
However, the car so far off the pace early on that, Hamilton was asked where the team were losing time to Red Bull, Ferrari and Aston Martin.
“It’s not on the straights,” Hamilton said. “Last year we were very draggy, we were struggling not only on the straights, but we’d start losing in the corners as well.
“This year is mostly through the corners, I think down the straights we’re quick, but these guys have a lot of rear end through most of the corners so I think in the race they weren’t pushing and I think they’re a lot quicker than they even seemed.
“But we have it as them as second and a half faster in the race per lap and something like that.
“None of us at this team have ever kind of shied away from a challenge so we enjoy this challenge. We would much prefer to be at the front, but it isn’t the way it is.”