LEWIS HAMILTON has been told Mercedes are up to 12 MONTHS in development behind rivals Red Bull.
The Brackley-based team have struggled to keep pace with reigning constructor champs Red Bull across the last two seasons.
Toto Wolff has warned Mercedes are ‘six to 12 months’ behind Red Bull’s car development
It comes with Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes deal up at the end of the season
Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have secured one-two finishes in the opening two races of the season.
Indeed, Hamilton claimed he had “never seen a car so fast” after Verstappen breezed past him on lap 12 of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Meanwhile, the 38-year-old has finished P5 in both races, while team-mate George Russell has finished P7 and P4 in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia respectively.
Consequently, Mercedes have admitted they need to look at changing their W14 car concept altogether, with “radical” changes set to be introduced.
However, team principal Toto Wolff has warned the team remain at least half a year away from competing at the top of the order.
Wolff told reporters in Jeddah: “I think the lag is probably between six and 12 months, because that’s the time it really took for us to figure out what was actually happening with the  car.
“That means we just need to double the development speed, a stronger development slope which the logic and rationale speaks for it, that we could have [it].
“[Red Bull’s] gains are going to be incrementally smaller if their concept is mature.
CASINO SPECIAL – BEST ONLINE CASINOS FOR 2023
“Aero-wise, wind tunnel time can help a bit but not hugely, and we’ve just got to get our act together.
“If we fundamentally understand where we need to put the car, then the steps are going to be large, but we need to be perfect.”
This time scale comes with Hamilton’s Mercedes contract up at the end of the season.
The seven-time world champion has been linked with Ferrari and Red Bull, though Christian Horner shut down such rumours from Red Bull’s camp.
He has also DISMISSED talk of retirement, at least until he wins his eighth world title.
Hamilton will be hoping for better fortunes when the lights go out for the Australian Grand Prix next weekend.
Did you miss our previous article…