Lewis Hamilton fires warning in Hungary as he denies Mercedes have ‘turned a corner’

Sir Lewis Hamilton got his and Mercedes' best result of the season last weekend in France.

Sir Lewis Hamilton has warned that Mercedes still have a long road ahead of them if they are to catch Ferrari and Red Bull following their performance at the French Grand Prix.

Having looked considerably more competitive in Silverstone and Austria than they had done all season, the Silver Arrows headed to Le Castellet anticipating another strong performance due to the long straights and smooth track surface.

However, Hamilton and team-mate George Russell spent much of the weekend running over a second behind the leaders, and it took a stunning lap from the 37-year-old at the end of qualifying to get the deficit to Charles Leclerc down to nine tenths of a second.

In the race, however, both cars had more pace than Red Bull’s Sergio Perez as first Hamilton and then Russell passed the Mexican, while Leclerc crashed out of the race.

READ: George Russell admits Lewis Hamilton is ‘consistently better’ at ‘little things’

Carlos Sainz started from the back and was looking on for a podium before he was forced to stop to come off his old Mediums and serve a five-second penalty for an unsafe release.

It left Mercedes to grab their first double podium of the season as Max Verstappen dominated to win after Leclerc’s retirement, but the performance over the course of the weekend tells Hamilton that the recovery is not yet complete.

“We can’t say we’ve turned the corner, we’ve been on the corner for ages and we’ve been progressing around it slowly,” he told Sky Sports ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“Silverstone was a great fight, we’ve had good consistency. In the last race, we took a step back or others took a step forward, we were around one second deficit on a single lap.”

Article continues below

Sainz’s penalty was a result of his second reliability failure of the year in Austria, and that too had helped Hamilton climb onto the rostrum.

In fact, issues for Red Bull and Ferrari have been a big help for the Silver Arrows, who have managed nine podium finishes this season and are yet to suffer their first reliability-related retirement.

The only non-finish they have suffered was the freak accident at the start of the British Grand Prix in which Russell was involved, so Mercedes have been exceptional on that front in 2022.

READ: Ferrari tell Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton to ‘lose with dignity’ as they fire new accusation

Further, their long-distance pace has improved since the start of the year, so there are things to smile about in Brackley.

“But our race pace is better and reliability is exceptional, we have also relied a little bit on others not finishing which overshadows that we still have a lot of work to do,” explained Hamilton.

The developments they have made are leading to a much better working environment in the Mercedes garage.

“I’m enjoying it more, because I’m getting better at the balance of the car and the set-up, Bono and the rest of the guys are happier too,” affirmed Hamilton.

Hamilton’s P2 at Paul Ricard last weekend was his fifth of the season, and he arrives at the Hungaroring this weekend having won there eight times before.