Lewis Hamilton admits 'we are a long way off' catching up to Red Bull

‘We are either where we were last year, if not further behind’: Lewis Hamilton admits ‘we are a long way off’ closing the gap to Red Bull… but insists Mercedes can still catch up ‘at some stage’ this season

  • Lewis Hamilton managed only an eighth-placed finish in practice session two
  • The seven-time world champion finished sixth in last season’s driver standings 
  • He revealed that the Red Bull car was ‘a second a lap’ faster on the long runs 

Lewis Hamilton delivered a devastating verdict going into the opening Bahrain Grand Prix, saying: ‘We are where we were last year, or further behind.’

The seven-time world champion ended practice in eighth place, trailing Aston Martin’s surprise pace-setter Fernando Alonso by six-tenths of a second.

George Russell, in the other Mercedes, lay 13th, one second off the top.

Champion Max Verstappen, in the hotly fancied Red Bull, was second fastest, two-thousandths ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez. 

‘We found out we are a long way off,’ said Hamilton, who finished sixth in the championship last season. ‘There is a big gap. I am trying everything I can, but it is what it is and we have to work on it. 

Lewis Hamilton admitted that his side have been unable to push on from a poor 2022 campaign

The seven-time world champion could only muster a P8 finished in Friday’s second practice

‘Red Bull were a second a lap faster on the long runs, so we have a lot to work on. I have got the car to the best place I can get it. I will continue to tweak little bits, but it is going to be small bits. They are worth milliseconds, so it is not going to allow us to close up by one second. 

‘I thought the Ferraris were second in the order, but on the long runs we are quite close to Ferrari, and it looks as if Aston Martin are second and we are third or fourth.

‘We are either where we were last year, if not a little further behind. It is difficult for everybody. It is really not where anyone in the team deserves to be because everyone works so hard. We are just on the wrong track. Do I believe we can close the gap at some stage? Yes, but it will be quite hard.’

Alonso, by contrast, was thrilled with Aston Martin’s pace. ‘I would lie if I said I was not feeling good,’ smiled the 41-year-old. ‘The target is fighting for the championship in the long term.’

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