Lewis Hamilton believes that Mercedes are 1.5 seconds slower than Red Bull in the race and is asking his team to take some ‘brave’ steps to get back into the fight for the top of the Formula 1 standings.
Mercedes is coming off a poor season that was filled with bouncing issues, but the German outfit were confident they would unlock great potential from the evolution of their ‘zerpod’ concept once they got rid of the bouncing.
However, the first race of the season in Bahrain showed that Mercedes did not progress nearly as much as they had hoped, and to make matters worse for them, it seems that they were overtaken in a strong order by the Aston Martin team, which uses their power units.
When asked to comment on Mercedes’ backlog, Hamilton said:
“Last year we were very aerodynamically inefficient. We didn’t only struggle on the straights, we had to drive with a much bigger rear wing and again we were only as fast or we again had a gap in the corners.”
“This year, we are lagging behind mostly in the turns. On the straight we are fast, but on the exits of the corners those guys (Red Bull) have a much better rear end. They didn’t even press in the race so I think they are much faster than they actually seem. We think they are 1.5 seconds faster in the race than us – or something like that.”
“We need Red Bull, Ferrari – now even Aston Martin – not to finish the race so we can win right now. But that doesn’t mean we can’t catch up with them.”
After the race in Bahrain, Hamilton said that Mercedes did not listen to him when it came to the development of the car. Although he explained that it was not the best choice of words on his part, he said that he had a feeling that Mercedes would not close the gap to the top this year either when he saw that this year’s concept car was still drastically different from the competing cars.
“Looking back, maybe I didn’t express myself in the best way. But there are times when you disagree with certain people on the team. It is important that we continue to communicate. I still have 100% confidence in this team.”
Regarding Mercedes’ ‘zero sidewall’ concept, Hamilton said: “I knew it wasn’t the right choice when I first saw the car. It looked so different from the cars of our competitors and those moments always make you nervous.”
The outcome of the Bahrain race prompted Mercedes boss Toto Wolff to say that his team must now radically change the concept of the car to return to winning ways, and Hamilton agreed that such a thing would require ‘bold decisions’.
“We’ve seen the evidence and we’ve seen where the performance is and how people are getting it. We need to start making bold decisions, big changes to close the gap. Red Bull are most likely to win the title this year if Ferrari can’t stop them. But hopefully at some point this season we’ll be able to close that gap – but at that point it’ll probably be too late to fight for the title,” Hamilton added.