Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2018

Hamilton: Mercedes now the second or third-fastest team

2018 Chinese Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes’ performance in the Chinese Grand Prix weekend shows they are now F1’s second-quickest team at best.

They reigning world champion qualified and finished fourth in Shanghai. Ferrari out-qualified both Mercedes and Red Bull won the race.

“It is clear from this weekend we are not the quickest,” said Hamilton. “We’ve lost performance since Melbourne and maybe more so this weekend.

“So we are second, third fastest team at the moment. We’ve got some improving to do, but that’s not impossible.”

Mercedes hasn’t won any of the last three races which is their longest win-less streak since the V6 hybrid turbo rules were introduced in 2014. Hamilton said he will keep applying pressure on his team to improve.

“I think what this team has shown over the years is we’re great at staying united and continuing to keep working,” he said. “Everyone here and back at the factory is just going to keep working as hard as possible. We’ve got a lot of information over the last couple of weeks.

“I certainly also am pushing very hard James Vowles and James Allison, Niki [Lauda] and Toto [Wolff], trying to encourage them so they know which areas of the car we’re struggling the most with so they can really apply pressure in those departments and make sure we’ve got more developments coming. Got to keep constructive pressure on the guys. But they’re already pressured, they want to win just as much as all of us. ”

Hamilton closed within nine points of championship leader Sebastian Vettel in Chain but predicts a tough fight to retain his title.

“Who knows what the season holds. If it continues the way it is it’s going to be very tough to win. But if there is an opportunity, we were to finish on top, it would mean even more, because it’s an even tougher season than before.”

Don't miss anything new from RaceFans

Follow RaceFans on social media:

2018 F1 season

Browse all 2018 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

84 comments on “Hamilton: Mercedes now the second or third-fastest team”

  1. I think neither Ferrari nor Mercedes cars has anything to fear from the Red Bulls yet. And if Ferrari lose just a tad of their advantage Kimi will fall behind Bottas and Hamilton for sure.Time will tell how big of an impact Verstappen his crash will have had on the championship.

    1. I’m with you.

    2. Second that. If it weren’t for the safety car I don’t think Red Bull would have made a dent on Ferrari/Merc leadership. Lewis likes to make these statements about the car, this is not new.

  2. It’s a little too soon for Hamilton to make this statement. They were the quickest in Australia, 2nd quickest in Bahrain and 2nd quickest here. I think we’d need to wait up until Barcelona to really see which car has been the quickest in the initial part of the season.

    I do think in-season development is one of Mercedes’ biggest strengths, so it’s entirely possible they will be the team to beat again in the 2nd half of the season.

    1. Merc were .3s slower in Bahrain and .5s slower in China. That is Merc 2014 kind of performance. Why are we holding out hope that this is not the new reality? I know we don’t want it to be true so that we can get an exciting race but from what we’ve seen thus far, it’s probably the reality and we as fans might have to accept that Ferrari will walk through the season.

      1. @deidunxf1

        Bottas was looking good to win in China before the safety car and could have won in Bahrain too. Hamilton would have won in Australia without the safety car and still could have if the team had correctly calculated the time delta he needed to keep the lead. You can hardly call that Ferrari domination. Looks like it could be a very competitive season, especially if Redbull could find a few tenths in qualy.

        1. Which race did you watch that you came to the conclusion that Bottas was looking to win in China? Vettel was much more faster that Bottas and around 0.5 of a second behind Bottas with some 20 odd laps to go before the Safety car. Without the Safety car, Vettel would have easily overtaken Bottas.

          1. Which race did you watch that you came to the conclusion that Bottas was looking to win in China?

            The one where he was comfortably leading before the safety car came out. Vettel was putting him under pressure sure, but he wasn’t in a position to pass and I doubt he would have been. In the dying stages of the race Bottas managed to hold off a quicker Ferrari with a tyre advantage, so he could have done the same with Vettel.

      2. Agree with @keithedin on this one. Mercedes could have won all 3 races so far and then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Even if Mercedes is 2nd, they have to be favourites to beat Ferrari in the development race. So i think it’s way too early to say anything right now.

        1. @todfod @keithdin Agree with you both. The way this season has been going it could just as easily be a Mercedes 1-2 for the next race. It is too early in the season, we’ve had some unique circumstances, and Mercedes is awesome at figuring things out, so I certainly am not agreeing with LH on this, but then he does tend to speak this way on occasion when all the ducks aren’t in a row.

      3. @deidunxf1 I think teams are nursing their engines, this nullifies the power advantage Mercedes had and the season could be decided by reliability, if Ferrari can get their 3 engines till the end of the season they will win the championship, on the other hand Mercedes can bring new engines despite the penalty in tracks like Spa and get a big advantage for the rest of the season, let’s wait and see.

  3. I think Hamilton is just trying to hide his own recent shortcomings here. Meanwhile Bottas does his talking on the track by bringing the fight to Ferrari for the second race in a row.

    1. @retardedf1sh indeed he has. Bottas has done a decent job of it so far perhaps only needing a little bit more hunger to win (but not Verstappen levels of it – too much).

      Ham is starting to sound deflated and moody…..

      1. Did either of you actually read the article?

        1. I did and it’s ridiculous for Hamilton to even suggest that Red Bull might be faster than Mercedes at the moment. They might be behind Ferrari on qualifying pace but their race pace seems to be on par with Ferrari and slightly ahead of Red Bull.

          1. Well their speed right now is masked by blown calls and stupidity behind the pitwall. They should’ve won all of these races but their slow reactions and mistakes cost them each time. Even on scrubbed tires Hamilton would’ve prob been no worse than 3rd if his tires fell away at the end. Instead they failed to react quickly enough and it cost him. Merc is still quick but is hamstrung by the lack of strategic competency of the team

    2. They both have the same amount of podiums & he’s trailing Lewis in the standings. Yea, he’s really doing his talking on the track 😏

    3. Michael Brown (@)
      15th April 2018, 16:28

      Not sure if the whining from car #44 is coming from the turbo, or Hamilton.

      1. More like the fans, as usual.

    4. I think you either didn’t read this article or didn’t watch Hamilton’s Interview where he clearly stated that his own side of the garage is lacking at the moment compared to Bottas side and he needs to perform better. That doesn’t sound to me like someone hiding.

  4. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    15th April 2018, 13:34

    2nd, At the moment, I think i can agree, but Red Bull are not close to being better yet.

  5. Doesn’t matter all that much once the engine penalties start kicking in. And I think Mercedes still have the edge on Ferrari there. Let’s not even bring Red Bull into this comparison :-)

    I have a gut feeling that Mercedes will be aiming to run through 2018 with only the allotted 2/3 components, while Ferrari would plan their campaign around one set of penalties (so an extra set of components, allowing them to run their engine harder). Red Bull are the happy-go-lucky kids who take each weekend as it comes, because their PU reliability is the worst of the top three.

  6. petebaldwin (@)
    15th April 2018, 13:43

    “Who knows what the season holds. If it continues the way it is it’s going to be very tough to win.”

    Be nice to see him win a Championship that is “very tough” to win again. It’s been a decade since he last did it.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      15th April 2018, 13:47

      I just heard his interview on Sky and to be fair to him, he said that whilst there is work to do on the car, he needs to improve his own performance.

    2. Hamilton had to dig fairly deep in 2017. Vettel was ahead for the the bulk of the season. The 2017 Ferrari car was good, some say even the best on the grid. So, last year was reasonably tough for Hamilton

  7. As Rosberg stated recently (and was mocked by some for it), Hamiltons continuing weakness is his inconsistency and I don’t think its something he’ll ever get on top of. And just like previous seasons he doesn’t even know why its happening which confuses him and drags his mood further down. He’s been lucky having the car advantage in previous seasons so these slumps are not so harming but this season as we see, it can make the difference between winning and coming 4/5.

    1. Nico, is that you? Seems it is.

      You should not be the one talking about Hamilton’s inconsistency. In all your seasons together, he was far more consistent than you were. In fact, the only reason you won in ’16 was because his engine was far more “consistent” than yours – at breaking down that is.

      1. @kbdavies you are really obsessed with saying this. “The only reason”. It’s as though that season didn’t take place over 21 race weekends.

        Do you also think that Hamilton ‘only’ won in 2008 because of Massa’s misfortune in Hungary? Or do you acknowledge Hamilton’s performance across the entire season?

        1. Yeah the season did take place over 21 races, and over those 21 races Hamilton was the better driver of the Mercedes pair. He had more wins, more poles and over the races that were not effected by reliability he outscored Rosberg by more than a race win.

          I don’t see how its unfair to say it’s “the only reason”. Hamilton lost between 40 and 80 points to Rosberg due to mechanical issues in 2016.

        2. Yes. I am obsessed with the facts.

          At the end of the season, Lewis won more races than Rosberg, had more poles, and more more FLAPS. His performance at the end of the season says despite suffering 7 engine related issues (the ONLY Mercedes engined car to do so) which meant he had to start from the back 4 times, and in an era when Mercedes were guaranteed a 1-2, he too the championship down to the wire and lost by 5 points.

          The team principals, ALL F1 blogs, websites and even fans were so impressed with his performance, that he was voted Driver of the Year – rather than Rosberg who won the championship. In fact, in some polls, Rosberg came no higher than 3rd – after Lewis, Vettel, and Ricciardo. And even him behind Max

          So, please give me another reason…..I’ll be waiting.

          1. @kbdavies I see you didn’t answer my question, entirely up to you but…..I’ll be waiting.

          2. Main reason is obviously the mechanical failures, not only malaysia cause his continued mechanical issues resulted in him having to come back from last to 3rd in belgium, let’s assume he’d have won that race normally, either him or rosberg, that alone is 17 points lost in the title battle.

            Some people talk about the bad starts but rosberg had a similar amount, it was a mercedes problem.

          3. Facts?

            It is a fact that 385 is greater than 380.
            It is a fact that Rosberg scored 385 points and Hamilton scored 380 points in 2016.
            It is a fact that how many wins you have is not pertinent to the Championship.
            It is a fact that Rosberg won the 2016 Drivers Championship.

    2. Are you talking about the same Hamilton who just broke the record for the most consistent finishes in the point last race?

      1. Yeah the only current driver who has had a car capable of finishing that many times in the points over the last 5/6 years!

  8. Looks to me like the top teams are closer than ever. Which is good for the sport. I hope it stays this way and it isn’t spoiled with unnecessary politics.

    1. @hatebreeder +1 to this. And let this competition stay as close through the year. I really don’t want any dead rubber races at the end.

      Well, actually, Abu Dhabi can be a dead rubber, that circuit doesn’t deserve any better.

    2. @hatebreeder
      To be honest, if engine convergence happens (by that I mean Renault and Honda get their act together), F1 could probably be at it’s best. We could easily have 3 to 4 teams fighting for the podium every race weekend.

      I’m actually dreading the 2021 regulation change a bit. Obviously, it has to be done 3 seasons in advance, so that everyone can prepare for it, but what if the quality of racing already reaches it’s peak in 2020?

  9. 2nd or 3rd quickest in your hands maybe. Your teammate was set to win without the SC interruption, and the Mercedes seemed the quickest in race trim.

    1. Bottas only managed to do the overcut cuz it took two laps for Ferrari to react to his pit stop. They made a mistake that would have cost them the win on normal conditions.

    2. You didnt watch the race because if you did you will know that only Ferrari pit blunder of leaving Vettel out allowed Bottas to take the lead an in 2 or 3 laps Vettel was going to overtake Bottas anyways because he was much faster and on Bottas heels whereas Bottas never came closer than 2 seconds of Vettel in the first stint.

  10. Bottas disagrees

    1. Didn’t Bottas see a Red Bull flying past him? Or two Ferrari’s in front after Q3?

      1. Wasn’t he set for a win if it wasn’t for a badly time SC? @patrickl

    1. And he only has one 2nd finish. Meanwhile the guy putting in consistent performances over 3 races and winning everything pretty much everything he can only has a 9 point advantage after his team made yet another strategic mistake and 2 other drivers (Verstappen and Alonso) almost took him out of the race completely. Good God, that’s some bad luck.

      1. I think luck wise we’re nowhere near hamilton’s advantage this season.

        Vettel won instead of being 3rd and hamilton 2nd instead of 1st due to VSC in australia, that’s a 17 points swing in vettel’s favour, bahrain hamilton had a replacement to do, so given he was faster than bottas, could’ve got ahead of him and passed vettel, in that case 34 points in vettel’s favour.

        As for this race, vettel was obviously unlucky with both verstappen’s mistake and the SC, he’d have got 2nd with hamilton 4th without anything, so he’d have gained 6 points but ended up losing 8, so 14 points lost through bad luck, for a total of 20 points gained by vettel in virtue of luck this season.

        Bahrain is ofc debatable as hamilton had a slow qualifying but in the race it was pretty much obvious he was a lot faster than bottas, so had he started 4th it might’ve been possible the team let him past toward the end to chase vettel and then he should’ve passed.

  11. The cars not where he likes it, having to do longer tyre management runs on harder tyres isn’t Hamilton’s strength, he wants a car fast enough to push on the soft/mid compound and do some proper racing.

    1. @emu55 That’s completely the opposite of reality. Hamilton has always been the better compared to his team mate when tyre conservation and/or driving with low grip was involved.

  12. He won’t be signing that new contract yet then…..the one that was going to be signed before the start of the season 😂😂

  13. Hamilton is a bad loser. Period. He might be saying these to motivate his team but more likely he wants Mercedes to be frightened enough to offer him even higher pay to get him to stay and extend his contract. Greed.

    1. Andrew
      Show me a F1 driver who is a good looser. I think team motivations is also part of every drivers duties. Mercedes, I suspect, know exactly what Lewis can do for them as a brand in a well balanced car. There are still plenty of races to go. Lets wait and see.

      1. Bottas. This is what got my attention mostly, not his racing skills. At the end of last season he recognized he’s the one to blame, that he underperformed and need to improve his game in order to challenge HAM.

    2. C’mon Andrew, your going to have to do better than that mate.

  14. Andrew Purkis
    15th April 2018, 14:43

    in race perhaps

    but with the engine penaltys RBR are not in the hunt if they start 12th

  15. constructive pressure on nikki… he won championships before lewis was born, so i don’t think they need lewis to realize how to play the game, or why they playing it.

  16. If he’s to grab the 5th title, he’s going to have to dig deep for it this season, chasing pack literally on his gearbox waiting for him to mess up. But the podium was refreshing today.

    I think RIC had a taste of what life has been like for HAM and VET when you’re in a car that easily outperforms rivals, albeit due to much faster tyres.

    1. @icarby

      I agree that he’s got to dig deeper this season. I think he started getting a little complacent since 2015. In 2016, although he was the better Mercedes driver, he was not on it during a couple of crucial race weekends. In 2017, he was really strong but then took the foot off the gas once he secured the championship.
      Usually when Lewis has a poor race weekend, like he did in Bahrain, he bounces back really strong. But he wasn’t quite on it since Saturday this weekend. I’m going to write the past 2 weekends off as an exception for him, and I’ll expect him to take the pole and win in Baku. If he still gets beaten by Bottas next weekend, then there will be some genuine cause for concern. Up until then he’s probably still the favourite for the title.

      1. Don’t forget early 2017 too, monaco, russia, austria qualifying, hungary qualifying.

        I agree he usually bounces back immediately, so it’s weird 2 times outqualified by bottas and this time outraced too.

      2. @todfod Lol Hamilton was not on it in 2016? You mean those races where he had technical issues? Or when they gave him a car in a setting that wouldn’t work for the race?

        Hamilton completely annihilated Rosberg, but he had 4 engine failures and part of which he needed to compensate and lose yet another race (Spa) to get the parts back. The biggest blow was of course an easy win and 25 points plus 3 extra for Rosberg slipping away in Malaysia.

        1. @patrickl

          Man.. read the comment properly. I’m saying that Lewis was the better of the two Mercedes drivers. He didn’t completely “annihilate” Rosberg though, or else he would have won the championship despite the engine failure and the couple mechanical issues during qualifying. He lost 28 points to Rosberg in Malaysia, and lost 25 to 28 points all season due to other failures and components changes. If it wasn’t for his failures, he’d probably have beaten Rosberg by around 40 points. Which is barely “completely annihilated” in anyone’s books .

          Hamilton was beaten late in the season at Monza, Singapore and Japan by Rosberg. If he was completely on it on those race weekends, he’d still be champion.

      3. This is following a similar pattern to 2016. At the end of 2015 Hamilton didn’t win any of the last three races after the title was secured and then had a slow start to 2016. At the end of 2017 he also went the last three races without a win and is yet to win in 2018.

        Complacency setting in after his title perhaps and now struggling to regain form?

        1. I agree with the main comment.

          I think we have all seen that Lewis suffers these short temporary dips in his form. He usually bounces back though. Like a lot of people once some major milestone has been achieved they often relax a bit. I think it’s quite natural in some ways.

          I think the difference this time maybe that Merc are not ahead of the pack. If his form drops off for too long he may not be able to come back. I think we would be foolish to write off his chances of a fifth title yet though.

  17. They should have won all three races. All three races were lost by poor calls from the team. That must be hard to swallow.

    1. To a point yes. But i would consider Ferrari the team to beat now.

  18. Classic Hamilton whinge. The car was leading the race in the hands of his less skilful teammate, and probably would have won without the safety car. I’m afraid Lewis has got too much of a taste of easy wins over the past few years.

    1. Early days but yes he has underperformed i would say the last 2 races. I would say Ferrari have the car to beat though at the moment. You can tell with Hamilton whether he has going to have a good race or poor one from pretty much before he has turned a wheel

    2. That’s true. But they got smoked in qualifying, and when Bottas was ahead, Vettel was on him like a cheap suit. Bottas got ahead through good strategy and a brilliant outlap. Ferrari look slightly better; and if they have the antidote for “party mode,” then they will be tough to beat. As for RBR, as others point out, this race flattered, because they were able to spend a lot of it on better tires.

  19. Mercedes is in desperately need of 2nd driver that could feed technical development input like Webber or Rosberg.

    The likes of Lewis, Alonso & Vettel are in different level that they could manage to squeeze every performance bits of the car which make their input not really on point.

    Ferrari could develop their car to Kimi liking and Kimi could look as he about to dominate a weekend but in the end Vettel thrive. Same thing happened with Lewis-Rosberg and Vettel-Webber.

    Maybe someone like Hartley. The way Hartley explained his constrain and performance bits on every turn is amazing. His experience of developing Porsche would help too. I thing he would better to be a Hartley in Mercedes than became a little Webber in little RedBull.

    I still can’t except that Hartley had been ordered to let Gasly through early in the race while Hartley in much softer tyre.

    1. And since Tost speak so highly about Sean Gelael technical input, Toro Rosso can have him and his father money too!

    2. “Mercedes is in desperately need of 2nd driver that could feed technical development input like Webber or Rosberg.”

      I agree. …How about bringing in Alonso to replace Hamilton?

  20. The DIVA is already back!…

  21. Pre-season someone said Mercedes PU able to break 1,000hp barrier. Now Mercedes would need 1,100hp for easy win.

  22. He just talks like that to help get bigger audiences to the races.

  23. Nothing wrong with the Mercedes,its just Contact negotiation ,,,,,Its Toto doing a Witmarsh .Lewis has upped his asking fee ,his argument is that he makes difference in the car in a tight battle where other drivers like Bottas and Rosberg cant……so Totto is putting his hands on the scale to undermine that argument by getting Bottas to beat lewis ,It also explain there unwillingness to put Lewis on any kind of strategy that will allow him to beat Bottas…….Lets not forget that toto is still Bottas Manger.toto wants to change the narrative around Bottas aftre a bad strat in AU .by getting him to beat Lewis and quelch any intrnal presure to replace his boy……..This is Toto a ruthless political operator,who ousted both Ross and Paddy

    1. @john problem with that is that vettel and ferrari dont fear bottas. Toto better give lewis what he wants or say bye bye to both championships

    2. Oh please.

    3. It’s funny you say that but I’ve actually thought about that that how come that its every time contract negotiations talk comes around that Lewis suddenly start performing badly. It like Toto saying to Lewis, look we know you’re a star but we can also make you look ordinary. Its been at the back of my mind now for weeks.

      1. And Hamilton needs Mercedes much more than they need him!

        1. @nico you really believe bottas can win a WDC against vettel.

          1. Probably not but cheaper options like Ricciardo, Hulk, Ocon or even Kubica could!

  24. Merc should have won in Australia, very nearly did in bahrain, and really it was another safety car which cost them the win today, to say the car is slower than ferrari or red bull is just ludicrous, bottas is doing just fine

    1. @scuderia29 Hamilton is ahead of Bottas …

Comments are closed.