LEWIS HAMILTON has explained what is motivating him to stay with Mercedes despite another weekend of struggles.
The season’s opening race in Bahrain saw Max Verstappen cruise to victory while Red Bull completed a front-row lockout thanks to Sergio Perez coming in second.
Lewis Hamilton is choosing to remain positive despite early struggles
He could only manage a P5 finish in Bahrain
With Mercedes openly questioning their car design
Hamilton‘s team-mate George Russell has joined fans in already anointing Verstappen as the season’s champion.
And while the Flying Dutchman’s display has laid down a big marker for the rest of the grid, Hamilton is choosing to remain optimistic.
Asked whether he was concerned about the team’s progress, the Brit replied: “Concerned wouldn’t be the word.
“There is nothing I can say, I don’t want to say too much. We’ve just got to keep working.
“We know we are not where we need to be, and we know that this isn’t the right car. It is a difficult one.
“But I’ve just got to try and stay positive, keep my head up and keep pushing the guys. Keep trying to be a positive light for them and get the best points I can.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff described Sunday as one of his “worst days in racing”.
Hamilton and Russell finished P5 and P7 respectively, unable to get near the pace of Red Bull and also finding Aston Martin to be too much to handle.
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This was particularly the case with Fernando Alonso, who clinched his 99th career podium after completing overtakes on Hamilton and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to take P3.
Hamilton also dismissed any suggestions the team were closer to the podium than they expected, adding the tyre degradation the team suffered last year had repeated itself.
He added: “We were miles away. There was a Ferrari that would’ve been ahead of him [third-placed Alonso], so we would’ve really been sixth. So a podium was nowhere near.
“It generally felt the same as last year [the car]. When we did the strategy in the morning I told the guys it wasn’t going to go as far as they said it was going to go, and it didn’t.
“We have just got a lot of work to do. We have just got to add downforce to the car, we’re lacking a lot of downforce.
“That is really where the time will come. As soon as we put more load on the rear and the front we’ll pick up that pace.
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Following a dismal qualifying session on Saturday, Wolff also admitted Mercedes may need to scrap their car design entirely.
He said: “I don’t think this package is going to be competitive.
“We gave it our best over the winter and now we need to regroup, sit down with the engineers — there are no holy cows — and decide what development direction we want to pursue in order to win races.
“The moment comes when the stopwatch showed we are not good enough.”
However, despite Verstappen’s early dominance, a trend dating back to 2017 suggests Hamilton and Co are still in with a very good chance of landing the title.
This is because the winner of the opening race has NOT gone on to win the championship at the end of the season in each of the last six years.
Furthermore, the chart-topper of Free Practice Two (FP2) on the curtain raiser has gone on to win the championship in every season since 2017.
This would suggest Alonso is in line to land his third world title and his first since 2006.