Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate have been struggling as the car falls behind its competition, Ferrari and Red Bull. Placing 5th on the grid after a difficult qualifying at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton, Russell, and team principal Toto Wolff have come to the conclusion that at this time, the Mercedes is not a competitive car and will therefore not be competing for wins.
Despite this, Lewis has told the press how proud he is of the team but admits that Red Bull and Ferrari are on another level.
“The session was tough but I’m really proud of what we’ve managed to do, given the issues we’ve had the past week.,” Hamilton told us.
“Those guys ahead of us are on another level at the moment but there’s a lot to play for tomorrow at the start and with strategy so I hope I can at least stay with them and stay in the fight. We’re not quick enough to win but I told you that before the weekend.”
He did however reveal that he expected to be further back on the grid:
“It was looking like we were further behind last week, we’ve made some improvements and we’re closer, so I’m proud of what we’ve achieved and where we’ve got to. I hope we’ll make another step next week and bit by bit, we’ll hunt those guys down.
“The improvements come from our collective efforts, we’re working as hard as we can and I know it’s a long, long way to go but I love a challenge.”
Russell, starting ninth on the grid after a troublesome qualifying on older tyres has also confirmed Hamilton’s opinion on Mercedes being slower than the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull.
“Today wasn’t ideal for me, I went one second slower in Q3 than I did in Q2; with only one set of fresh tyres for Q3, I tried something different on my out-lap and it didn’t work. I’m glad I tried something because we want to be fighting Ferrari and Red Bull.
“We had one shot, maybe it was too risky but we’re here to fight for podiums and victories, not to settle for P5 and P6. The pace of our car is definitely behind Ferrari and Red Bull, and ahead of the rest of the midfield, so my target for tomorrow is to get ahead of that group.
Russell continued, adding that the change in regulations has brought “global issues” to Mercedes:
“We’re trying absolutely everything at the moment to solve our global issues with the car. We all knew with the regulation change that anything could happen, the only promising thing is we have major issues and we’re still the third-fastest team.
“If we were in this position and everything felt great, then we’d be a little bit puzzled. It race day tomorrow and I’ll be giving it my all.”