We all need a kick. We all need to get on – Lewis Hamilton on Mercedes comments
Lewis Hamilton said his Mercedes team needs “a kick” after conceding his chances of winning a record eighth world title are over for another year.
Mercedes arrive for the second round of the season in Saudi Arabia in crisis mode following a turbulent opening race.
Hamilton finished fifth in Bahrain – more than 50 seconds behind winner Max Verstappen – and then accused Mercedes of ignoring him on the development of this season’s machine.
“It’s really about accountability,” said the seven-time world champion a fortnight ago. “It’s about owning up and saying, ‘Yeah, you know what? We didn’t listen to you’.”
Addressing his comments in Jeddah, Hamilton said: “In hindsight it wasn’t the best choice of words, but there are times when you are not in agreement with certain team members.
“I have 100 per cent belief in this team, it is my family. I have been here a long time and I don’t plan on going anywhere else. But we all need a kick. We all need to get on.
“The proof in the pudding is in the eating. We have got to start making some bold decisions and some big moves to close the gap to these guys.
“Red Bull will run away with it this year unless Ferrari can stop them. We are hopeful we will be able close the gap at some stage, but by that point it will be too late in terms of fighting for the championship.”
Hamilton is in the final year of his £40million-a-season deal at Mercedes and the Silver Arrows’ form leaves question marks over his future.
Quizzed on his motivation, Hamilton, 38, replied: “It is just different. If you are fighting for a world championship, which is what you prepare for at the beginning of the season, and you realise that is not the case, you re-direct your energy.
“We are not fighting. We need the Red Bulls and the Ferraris and maybe now the Aston Martins not to finish a race to win.
“Red Bull were not pushing in Bahrain and they were a lot quicker than they seemed. They were a second and a half a lap faster than us in the race.
“The comments I heard before the season is that we would not hit the ground straightaway at the front but we would be there or thereabouts, so it was a shock when that wasn’t the case.
“I knew that we were not in the right place. When I saw the car for the first time it looked so different to our competitors.
“The colour looked nice but I don’t care what colour it is as long as it is quick. We will hopefully mould it into a winning car. I will win again. It is just going to take some time.”
Formula One is back in Saudi Arabia, 12 months after a nearby missile strike overshadowed last season’s race. The country has also been criticised for its human rights’ record.
Asked if he was unhappy to be racing in Jeddah, Hamilton cryptically replied: “It is open to interpretation.
“Hopefully everyone has a safer weekend. That’s as much as we can do, right? If I’m not here, Formula One would continue without me. The sport is duty bound to raise awareness and try to leave a positive impact and I feel like it needs to do more.”
Verstappen’s arrival in Jeddah was delayed by a day following a stomach bug.
However, the double world champion is expected to be in his Red Bull for first practice on Friday.