LEWIS HAMILTON finished so far behind the leaders in the Saudi Arabian GP – he didn’t even know if he scored points for tenth place.
The seven-time world champion fears he will not be battling Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc for the title this season.
Lewis Hamilton battled it out with 2021 whipping boys Haas and finished tenth in Saudi Arabia
Instead, he will be slugging it out with minnows Haas, who finished last in the championship in 2021 and only called up Kevin Magnussen at the 11th hour to replace axed Russian Nikita Mazepin.
Hamilton was issued an apology by his race engineer.
As he crossed the finish line in Jeddah, Peter ‘Bono’ Bonnington said: “OK Lewis, that’s P10. Sorry about that.”
Hamilton replied: “Is there even a point for that position?”
Indeed there is, but only one point and he sits in fifth place in the drivers’ championship – 29 points off the leader Leclerc.
Hamilton said: “Right now, we’re not fighting for the top step. We’re so far off the guys up ahead. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
When asked how far away, he added: “It feels like a long way away. We’re still really down on speed. It’s not just one fix, it’s several things.
“I don’t really know but I’ll have to speak to the team. It’s definitely gutting but I got one point at least and we’ll work hard. At least we both got points for the team.
“I don’t particularly feel like we have made improvements. All I know is that I couldn’t keep up the Haas in the end.
“The power they have, they came slingshotting past me when I overtook Magnussen earlier in the race.
“We have a lot of work to do for sure but I know I have got a great team and we will keep our heads down and try to improve.”
Hamilton, who completed his 180th race for Mercedes – a new record for a driver’s appearance for one team, beating Michael Schumacher’s total at Ferrari, said he was “so happy the weekend is done” and was “looking to getting out” of Saudi Arabia.
The race had been overshadowed by a missile attack on an oil refinery on Friday and the drivers will now speak to F1 chiefs to express their concerns about returning to the country.
Meanwhile, George Russell, who was fifth, added: “That was the maximum considering I was all by myself pushing as hard as I could.
“The most physical race I have probably experienced in Formula One, which was pretty cool to experience.
“But a victory is not P5. We have work to do but maximised everything. We are making baby steps at the moment and we need to make some bigger leaps.
“I’m sure we can do that but the timeline I don’t know.”