Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes pain may not improve for months in setback

Lewis Hamilton may have to cope with not competing at the front of the grid for a little while yet with Mercedes reportedly not bringing any major upgrades for the first few races of the season. Any optimism that Mercedes were going to close up to Red Bull for the start of the 2023 season quickly evaporated at pre-season testing last week.

While teams often hold things back during testing, both Mercedes drivers appeared to struggle for grip and pace. That remained the case in the first two free practice sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday.

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin accepted that neither their single-lap pace and long-run pace were not “good enough”. There’s still time for Mercedes to change things heading into the first qualifying session of the season on Saturday.

But Mercedes are expected to be in a battle with Ferrari and Aston Martin to try and be the best of the rest. Aston Martin have been the surprise package of the year so far and could even be challenging Red Bull this weekend.

Meanwhile, Mercedes duo Hamilton and George Russell may be powerless to stopping their championship rivals. And their frustrations may last a little while with The Race reporting Mercedes are waiting on a ‘major upgrade’ that is expected to come in May.

It’s stated that Mercedes are hopeful the upgrades will be in place for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The Italian race is the sixth Grand Prix of the season, meaning Hamilton and Russell face several weeks of more issues.

Hamilton appeared fed up when speaking after Friday’s practice sessions, admitting Mercedes could find themselves as low as fourth in the pecking order. “We’ve got a lot to work on. We knew we were behind some of our competitors at testing and today, we found out that we are a long way off,” he said.

“We’ll keep our heads down tonight, go through the data, and continue to work to find some progress for tomorrow. We’ve got to find out if we can add performance overnight. I think I’ve got the car to the best place I can set-up wise. On long-run pace, we look similar to Ferrari but are behind Red Bull and Aston Martin.

“It’s difficult for everyone and it’s not where anyone in this team wants to be. Everyone continues to work so hard and is so courageous and thoughtful in the process. We need to continue to graft away and get ourselves back on the right track.”

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