LEWIS HAMILTON fears his car is too slow to deliver a record-breaking eighth world title.
Mercedes set the fastest-time during pre-season testing in Barcelona last month but have been chasing Red Bull and Ferrari’s tails during this week’s final test in Bahrain.
Lewis Hamilton claims Mercedes will be off the pace early in the seasonCredit: Rex
Max Verstappen’s Red Bull could be too quick for quite a while, Hamilton saysCredit: Getty
The 37-year-old said: “It is too early to have those kind of thoughts about the world championship, but at the moment I don’t think we will be competing for wins.
“We’re not the quickest at the moment.
“Ferrari look to be the quickest and perhaps Red Bull and then maybe us or McLaren – but we’re currently not at the top.
“We have far bigger challenges this time and they’re not one-week turnarounds, they’ll take a little bit longer, but from what I’m told, we have a significant amount of pace to find.”
Their performance in testing left Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz to accuse them of holding back pace as they have done previously.
Mercedes struggled in testing last year, only for Hamilton to clinch the win in the opening race while teammate Valteri Bottas picked up the fastest lap.
Yet Hamilton says his team are genuinely struggling this season due to the major design changes for 2022.
He added: “It’s not as good. It’s not going to look as good as it did last year with the difficult session we had in practice and then switch over to the race.
“There is potential within our car to get us there.
“We’ve just got to learn to be able to extract it and fix some of the problems, which is what we’re working on.”
Hamilton signed a new two-year deal with the Silver Arrows last summer to take him racing into his late 30s.
Hamilton said: “I haven’t thought about that number, because I’m 37. Jeez, I’ve still got a bit to go.“
“So, I honestly haven’t thought about that, and I don’t plan on being here close to that age.”