Lewis Hamilton admits any hopes of fighting for the drivers’ championship this year “feels like a long way away” after he finished tenth in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Mercedes has struggled with the handling of its car at the start of this season, with Hamilton being promoted to third in Bahrain by two late retirements for the Red Bull drivers. In Jeddah, Hamilton was eliminated in Q1 and, although his car was more competitive in the race after he made some wing adjustments, he was limited to tenth and says the title is not a realistic aim at this stage of the season.
“Right now we’re not fighting for the top step as you know, we’re so far off the guys up ahead,” Hamilton said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do … [it] Feels like a long way away.”
“We need more grip and we need more power … We’re still really down on speed in the speed trace, it’s not just one fix, it’s several things. But I don’t know how much drag we have compared to the others.”
Hamilton rose to sixth at one stage and was competitive with teammate George Russell ahead, but he still needed to make a pit stop late in the race and was hampered by the pit lane being closed due to two cars blocking the entry, eventually dropping him to the final points-paying position.
“The end result is not great. The race was going relatively well on the hard tire, was keeping up with George, putting in some decent times considering how old the tires were. The strategy, I don’t know that or VSC, but we lost out so much. It’s gutting but we’ll keep working hard and keep fighting.”
Hamilton didn’t even know he’d scored a point when he crossed the line, when informed by race engineer Peter Bonnington that he’d finished tenth he replied: “Is there even a point for that position?”