Lewis Hamilton lamented the lack of pace of his Mercedes W14 after finishing fifth in the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.
Mercedes’ 2023 Formula 1 season starting unraveling from the first race of the season, and it’s not looking good for the eight-time Constructors’ Champions, and that also goes for Lewis Hamilton.
Mercedes stuck to their 2022 slim sidepods concepts and they started paying for that uninspired decision as early as the opening race in Bahrain.
Hamilton qualified seventh for the race in Bahrain, and put in a feisty drive, squeezing every ounce of performance in his W14, but could only manage fifth when the chequered flag was waved.
“I gave it absolutely everything,” he told Sky Sports F1 after the race. “I am generally happy with the race. It was much better than Qualifying and I am generally happy in terms of my performance.
“I thought the team did a great job in terms of pit stops and just unfortunately the car is not there at the moment,” he regretted.
“We are just lacking downforce and we have got to work really hard to add that ASAP,” the Briton added. “Anything from in the wind tunnel, we need it tomorrow. We have really got to push massively to try and close that gap.”
As for the rapid Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, Hamilton commented: “The Red Bull pace today was obviously huge, must have been at least a second a lap. But those around us, I think we could catch at some stage.”
The seven-time F1 Champion also had a thrilling fight with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso which he latter won, but Hamilton had fun nevertheless.
“I really did (enjoy the tussle with Fernando). As a driver, you are always hoping that you are going forwards, but at least getting a tussle,” he said. “I think today was a much more enjoyable battle I was having out there.
“The start was great, I gained a couple places and got Fernando in Turn 4. Then we had that battle and I was also close with the Ferrari at some stage so there isn’t much else I could have done today.
“Set the car up differently maybe? But overall it is just lacking performance so we have got to keep working on it,” Hamilton concluded.
George Russell: You feel a little bit helpless
George Russell finished the race in seventh, after a botched pit stop put him on the back foot, a fact not even scoring points could make any less painful.
“I think we obviously had a good battle at points but I think both of us were on the backfoot and you feel a little bit helpless when you are lapping a couple of tenths compared to the cars around you,” Russell said after the race.
“You are trying your best to battle with them but you just can’t hold them up. I think Fernando, and Lance as well, were really, really strong and Carlos, we were on a slightly more level playing field,” he reflected.
“But it was just a really difficult race for us,” Russell insisted. “I think probably making a better race start and Lewis and I were on a similar strategy.
“Perhaps if I was ahead of him on lap one, I would have ended where he was just because of the nature of how things were.
“P5, P7, P6, whatever it is, we don’t really care, we are here to fight for victories. We need to hit the drawing board tomorrow and see how we go from there,” the young Mercedes driver concluded.
Not where we want to be, but we promise we’ll fight our way forward. pic.twitter.com/2AVN5DPfu7
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) March 5, 2023