Lewis Hamilton admitted Mercedes were “fortunate” to get on the podium, but that boils down to having done a “better job” on their reliability than Red Bull.
Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate George Russell spent the majority of the Bahrain Grand Prix lagging behind both Ferraris and both Red Bulls and, although a late Safety Car bunched the pack together, it took both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez to retire to allow the seven-time World Champion onto the podium on Sunday.
Verstappen was left bemoaning the fact that his retirement could end up having ramifications for this year’s World Championship battle, and the Mercedes driver is well aware that any advantage gained could be vital.
“Every point can make a difference,” Hamilton said in the post-race press conference. “I’ve lost world titles with just one point.
Given how far off the pace they were, Lewis Hamilton admitted it was "pretty remarkable" for Mercedes to finish P3 and P4 on Sunday.#BahrainGP #F1https://t.co/an6vEODlgA pic.twitter.com/iiEXjrEST8
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) March 20, 2022
“Whilst we’re currently not necessarily performance-wise fighting with these guys, as I mentioned, this is you know, not damage limitations, but just really, it’s a really, really great result.
“Of course we were fortunate but ultimately we’ve done a better job, we have better reliability. So I don’t necessarily count that all… I wouldn’t say that’s luck, I think this is the hard work of everyone.
“But it is such a long season. It’s going to be such a hard battle but we love a challenge. I really do enjoy a challenge. And it is a privilege to work with.. for all of us to be able to work with large teams of people who are hungry, who are focused on a common goal.
“There’s no greater feeling when you all come together and you get a result like this.”
Hamilton and Mercedes spoke openly all weekend all weekend about their significant pace deficit compared to Red Bull and Ferrari, with the Briton having previously mentioned the need to increase the car’s top speed.
Team principal Toto Wolff owed a part of that disadvantage to having been ‘over-winged’ in Bahrain, increasing the car’s drag profile, but the team have insisted they will put the work in to try and catch up to the front.
Hamilton, however, is not expecting a quick fix.
“No, I don’t think so,” he responded when asked if he expects to be more competitive in Saudi Arabia. “But of course we’ve learned a lot from this week.
“Their [Ferrari’s] straight-line speed, as well as the Bulls, were very quick in a straight line and their performance through corners is quite a bit different to us.
“So the car was very hard to drive but it could always be worse. So I’m hoping for the next race we manage to find some improvements but it’s a fundamental issue that’s going to take a little bit longer I think to fix.”
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