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Championship remains a long shot for Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton battling with Zhou Guanyu

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff believes the constructors’ championship remains a long shot even though his team scored 27 points in the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished third and fourth respectively in a race which saw Ferrari claim its first one-two finish since the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix.

The Scuderia duly picked up a maximum haul of 44 points, while a disastrous climax to the race culminated with Red Bull scoring nothing.

A steering issue forced Max Verstappen to retire while a suspected power unit problem saw Sergio Perez spin out of third on the final lap.

The demise of the Red Bull pair was Mercedes’ gain, and the squad now sits second in the constructors’ championship as a result.

“It’s too early to look to really look at the championship,” said Wolff when asked by what the result meant for the constructors’ battle given the drama which befell its rival.

“As it stands, if we look at the pecking order today, it seems very, very far, a very long shot, to even think about being in contention for any of the championships.”

The 2022 season is set to be the longest in F1 history, with 23 races planned (Qatar is expected to replace the cancelled Russian Grand Prix).

Mercedes expects to struggle in the early part of the season as it battles to get porpoising issues with the W13 under control.

The result in Bahrain was an unexpected bonus as it anticipated trailing both Ferrari and Red Bull to the flag in Sakhir.

“I think we are fifth and sixth, or third [team] on the road. And fifth and sixth would have been the reflection of where we are,” Wolff reasoned.

“In summary, we are competitive on the first few laps on the soft tyre, are able to hold on if not fastest than some of the guys.

“But we had more [degradation]. Nevertheless, it was a good, useful, test for us.

“We tried the hard tyre which obviously wasn’t great, lost a second a lap, and also the medium we weren’t really able to extract performance.

“So there’s some really good learning and there’s so many areas we just need to improve in order to climb back to race with the guys at the front.”

For the moment, that means treating each event individually rather than taking a broader season-long approach with one eye fixed on the championship.

“If I look at it as a single race weekend, we probably scored the maximum of points that that we could have and we need to take it from there,” Wolf said.

“Every single weekend counts and at the moment it’s singular, singular events, because realistically, when you’re third on the road, you can’t think about winning.”

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