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Hamilton says 'miles away' Mercedes in dire need of downforce

Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes’ W14 car is crucially lacking downforce, and insists the Brackley squad was “miles away” from securing a podium in last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton qualified seventh, just one spot behind George Russell. But the seven-time world champion immediately overtook his teammate and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso to settle in fifth position, where he would eventually finish.

The optics of the race suggested that Mercedes’ was perhaps closer to a podium finish than what was suggested after qualifying. But the Briton, who was eventually overhauled by Alonso but benefitted from Charles Leclerc’s retirement was adamant that a podium was never on the cards.

“We were miles away,” he said. “There was a Ferrari that would’ve been ahead of him [third-placed Alonso], so we would’ve really been sixth. So a podium was nowhere near.”

Mercedes had opted for a soft-hard-hard tyre strategy, but the W14’s degradation hampered the car’s pace and forced Hamilton to cut short his stints.

  • Read also: F1i’s Driver Ratings for the 2023 Bahrain GP

“It generally felt the same as last year,” he explained. “When we did the strategy in the morning I told the guys it wasn’t going to go as far as they said it was going to go, and it didn’t.

“We have just got a lot of work to do. We have just got to add downforce to the car, we’re lacking a lot of downforce. That is really where the time will come.

“As soon as we put more load on the rear and the front we’ll pick up that pace.”

Asked if he was concerned by his team’s plight, Hamilton said that he would continue to try and make the best of the situation.

“Concerned wouldn’t be the word,” he said. “There is nothing I can say, I don’t want to say too much. We’ve just got to keep working.

“We know we are not where we need to be, and we know that this isn’t the right car. It is a difficult one.

“But I’ve just got to try and stay positive, keep my head up and keep pushing the guys. Keep trying to be a positive light for them and get the best points I can.”

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