Lewis Hamilton is certain he will win another race in Formula 1 despite admitting Mercedes’ struggles at the start of this season have come as a shock.
Red Bull dominated the opening race in Bahrain with Hamilton only fifth behind Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz, and the seven-time world champion estimates that Mercedes is 1.5 seconds per lap adrift in race pace. Despite that assessment, ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Hamilton is convinced he will be able to add to his record tally of 103 victories, the last of which came in Jeddah in 2021.
“Yeah, I will win again,” Hamilton said. “Just gonna take some time…
“Of course in 2021 when we were here we were hoping to be fighting for another world championship following. You can never know what’s up ahead and there will be things that happen in all of our lives that we least expect.
“But it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get up, it’s how you deal with it, how you show up, how you continue to remain positive and tackle the issues you’re faced with. That’s where my energy is going into and that’s where every single person in the team is focused on.”
Mercedes stuck with its aerodynamic car concept this season despite struggling last year, and found itself well off the pace in Bahrain, leading to a quick admission from team principal Toto Wolff that the team “got it wrong” and needs to make radical changes. Despite the speed of that u-turn, Hamilton says the team was not aware that it could be so far adrift of its main rivals.
“I think the comments that I would hear were that we probably wouldn’t hit the ground straightaway at the front, but we should be there or thereabouts, so it was a bit of a shock when that wasn’t the case.
“I knew that we weren’t in the right place when we saw the car for the first time — it looked so different to that of our competitors. It’s always nerve-wracking in that moment. It looked nice, obviously the color, but I don’t care what color it is, as long as it’s quick. We will hopefully mold it into a winning car at some stage.”
Returning to Saudi Arabia for a third time, Hamilton maintains his stance that he isn’t comfortable with Formula 1 racing in the kingdom due to its human rights record, going against the comments of a number of other drivers who had said they were reassured after last year’s nearby missile strike.
“All the opposite to everything they (the other drivers) said,” Hamilton stated, before later adding: “I didn’t elaborate on it so it’s open to interpretation!
“The thing is, if I’m not here, Formula 1 will continue on without me. So what I try to do is try to learn as much as I can when I go to these different places, I still feel as a sport going to places with human rights issues such as this one, I feel that the sport is duty bound to raise awareness and try to leave a positive impact. I feel like it needs to do more. What that is, I don’t have all the answers. We always need to do more to raise awareness for things people are struggling with.”