Lewis Hamilton delivers damning Mercedes verdict

Lewis Hamilton finished 51 seconds behind race winner Max Verstappen in Bahrain, after finishing fifth.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has concerningly admitted that Mercedes are currently “miles away” from being podium contenders, after an abysmal start to the season in Bahrain.

The season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix was described by team principal Toto Wolff as the “worst day in racing”, with Mercedes having slipped embarrassingly to fourth in the pecking order.

Those who were hoping that 2022 was a blip for Mercedes were likely left hiding behind their sofa, with the Germans having remarkably been even further behind the likes of Red Bull than they were last season.

Despite salvaging a top five, Hamilton still finished 51 seconds behind Max Verstappen, who cruised to his first victory at the Bahrain International Circuit.

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Data after the race showed that the 38-year-old was almost a second a lap slower than the Dutchman all race, with George Russell having been even further off the pace.

Russell finished two places behind Hamilton in seventh, with the 25-year-old having been beaten by both Aston Martin drivers.

Had Charles Leclerc not retired, then Hamilton would’ve finished sixth, given that the Monegasque was third prior to his engine failure.

Even during qualifying, Mercedes found themselves over six-tenths behind Verstappen’s pole time, demonstrating just how far behind the Brackley-based team are once again.

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It’s seemingly one step forwards, two steps back for the usually dominant Germans, who’s dominant era is very much over.

“We were miles away (from the podium),” said Hamilton.

“There was a Ferrari that would have been ahead of him (Alonso), so we would really have been sixth. The podium was nowhere near.”

Whilst Hamilton was never in podium contention, he did enjoy a great battle with former team-mate Fernando Alonso, who fought through the top seven to claim a rostrum for Aston Martin.

The duo battled hard but fairly, with the Spaniard having gotten the better of his old McLaren team-mate before pursuing Carlos Sainz.

Hamilton rated Aston Martin as being in a “different league” to Mercedes, with it having been evident by how easily Alonso was “pulling away”.

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“It was fun for a moment. He was quick,” Hamilton added.

“We were in a different league performance-wise at the time as you could see from him pulling away so much. But I enjoyed the little tussle we had.

“I knew he was going to come by because of the way he caught me.”