Lewis Hamilton slates Mercedes concept as he targets a win in 2023

Mercedes look to be only the fourth fastest team, based on pre-season testing and the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Having gone the entirety of last season without a win, Lewis Hamilton would have hoped to fly out of the blocks this year with a victory at the season opener in Bahrain.

Unfortunately for the 38-year-old, Mercedes look some way away from challenging Red Bull for race wins this year, with Red Bull, Ferrari and even Aston Martin looking quicker than the Silver Arrows.

Hamilton has admitted that his dream is to retire from Formula 1 as a world champion and with this in mind, the Brit is set to sign a multi-year contract extension with Mercedes in the near future.

The seven-time world champion has bemoaned his team’s performance in pre-season, suggesting that he expected the Silver Arrows to be closer to the front than they are.

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“We’re just on the wrong track so we’ve got to continue to graft away and find a way to get on the right track,” he said.

“Right now we’re a long way from the guys in front. Do I believe we can close the gap? Yes, I do, but I think it’s quite hard with the concept we have”

While the Mercedes engineers will be working hard to make the W14 competitive and on the level of the SF-23 and RB19, Hamilton is also doing everything possible to help his team improve.

“I’m trying everything I can, but it is what it is and we’ve got to try and work at it,” said Hamilton.

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“We kind of knew that a little from the test, but it’s a big gap.

“We’re not strong on a single lap pace or race pace. I’d say they’re very similar. We’re a second a lap behind Red Bull so we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

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There has been rumours that Hamilton is currently stalling his contract extension with Mercedes to see how competitive the team can really become.

Former F1 champion Damon Hill has claimed that should Mercedes not return to winning ways this year, Hamilton could retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season instead of carrying on in a car unable to win him his eighth world championship.

Hamilton has been quick to rubbish these claims however, telling the media that he will be with Mercedes for the foreseeable no matter what.