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Lewis Hamilton doubts Mercedes competitiveness ahead of Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

22/03/22

The podium finish in Bahrain has still boosted his spirits.

Lewis Hamilton admitted he does not think Mercedes will be more competitive at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix but believes his podium finish in Bahrain has still boosted spirits.

Mercedes struggled with their new W13 car through much of the weekend at Sakhir but came away with a surprise third-place finish after both Red Bulls failed in the final laps, allowing Hamilton – who had qualified fifth – to capitalise.

While Hamilton has already stated their result was "the best result we could have got" in the circumstances, the seven-time world champion doubts they will be up to the pace in Jeddah.

"No, I don't think so," he said in a news conference. "Of course, we've learned a lot from this week. The car was very hard to drive but it could always be worse.

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"I’m hoping for the next race we manage to find some improvements but it's a fundamental issue that's going to take a little bit longer I think to fix."

Mercedes previously considered their objective in Bahrain to be damage limitation given their disadvantage, but Hamilton agreed they had been lifted by their unexpected reward.

"I think [it is] incredibly motivating for the whole team," he added. "Everyone’s stayed positive, everyone's just kept their head down and kept working. No one moaned.

"In terms of our processes, in terms of squeezing absolutely everything out of the car, I think that's what we did today. I think that's a true showing of strength within.

"It is such a long season. It's going to be such a hard battle but we love a challenge. I really do enjoy a challenge."

Hamilton would have missed third without the double retirement that hit both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, but the seven-time world champion refused to consider it karma for last year's Abu Dhabi final.

"I don't have a response to it," he added. "I just focused on our job. Obviously, it was unfortunate for them today but, yeah, I just focus on positives."

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz claimed a Ferrari one-two to emerge as the early pacesetters of the season.


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