Lewis Hamilton delivered a damning assessment of Mercedes‘ performance level at the start of the 2023 Formula 1 season and said they were nowhere near scoring a podium at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Hamilton looked to be in contention at one stage as he was just three second behind third-placed Carlos Sainz but that was before Fernando Alonso overtook his compatriot and pulled away, finishing 12 seconds ahead of fifth-placed Hamilton.
The position came up for grabs after Charles Leclerc retired with a power unit problem after the Ferrari driver had looked assured of a podium spot, and Alonso was the one to pounce.
“We’re miles away. There was a Ferrari that would’ve been ahead of him so we would’ve really been sixth, the podium was nowhere near,” Hamilton told reporters.
“We’ve just got a lot of work to do, we’ve just got to add downforce to the car, we’re just lacking a lot of downforce so that’s that’s really where the time will come.
“As soon as we put more load on the rear and the front and we’ll pick up that pace but big congrats to Fernando today, he did a great job, it’s really amazing to see.
“And to all the Aston Martin team, they did such an amazing job so we’ve got work to do, I mean, half their car is ours so we’ve got some work to do.”
Hamilton enjoyed battle with Alonso
While Hamilton bemoaned Mercedes‘ lack of pace, the reality was no one was in the same league as Red Bull.
The 2022 double-world champions picked up where they left off before the off-season, with Verstappen winning the race 37 seconds ahead of Alonso, the first non-Red Bull driver.
However, Alonso provided the entertainment in Bahrain with extended wheel-to-wheel duels with Russell, Sainz and Hamilton.
“Yeah, it was fun for me for a moment,” Hamilton said. “He was quick, they were in a different league, performance-wise but I enjoyed the little tussle we had.”