Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022

Hamilton: People who say Mercedes are talking ourselves down are in for a surprise

2022 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton doubts Mercedes will bounce back from their troubled start to the season in testing as easily as they did last year.

Mercedes had a difficult pre-season test in 2021 but rebounded at the first race of the year. Although Hamilton was beaten to pole position by Max Verstappen, he got ahead of his rival in the race and beat him to victory.

Speaking after his final run in the car before next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton said it was clear Mercedes are not contenders for pole position and victory at the moment.

“No, at the moment we’re not,” he said, “I’m sure everyone can kind of figure that out. We’re not the quickest at the moment.

“I think Ferrari look to be the quickest and perhaps Red Bull and then maybe us or McLaren, I don’t know. But we’re certainly not at the top.”

The team is in a much more difficult situation than it was 12 months ago, said Hamilton. “It feels a lot different. It’s not going to look as good as it did last year with the difficult session we had in practice and then switched over to the race.

“I think we have far bigger challenges this time and they’re not one-week turn-arounds. It will take a little bit longer. But from what I’m told, we have a considerable amount of pace to find.”

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jnr said yesterday Mercedes were downplaying expectations ahead of the new season. But Hamilton said those who believe they are playing a PR game with the comments over their lack of performance are in for a surprise.

“At the moment I don’t think we’ll be competing for wins but 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.

“Everyone’s doing such an incredible job back at the factory, working as hard as they can, but we have some hurdles to overcome. Obviously next week we’ll get a much better showing of our pace.

“But I think people will be surprised, maybe. Or at least the people who keep talking about we’re talking ourselves down. It’s a bit different this year.”

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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...
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95 comments on “Hamilton: People who say Mercedes are talking ourselves down are in for a surprise”

  1. RocketTankski
    12th March 2022, 13:32

    Ah, Mercedes as the underdog? That’s a new one :-D

    1. https://www.reddit.com/r/formula1/comments/td0zhh/im_seeing_a_pattern_here/

      You all shall check this sub, it’s hilarious.
      Lewis’ pre season comments:
      2017: “Hamilton was not able to push the car has he wanted”
      2018: “Red Bull could pose a real threat for the world championship ”
      2019:”Ferari half a second faster”
      2020:”La Mercedes faces many issues”
      2021:”Lewis admits Mercedes struggles during pre-season tests”

      1. Apologies for a couple of typos

  2. Ah, when the usual amount of downplaying is not enough: double down

  3. So predictable. Come the first race: nobody expected us to be in this position, we worked really hard to turn things around from testing, never could have imagined we’d do so well, it’s a credit to the team.

    1. We worked really hard this week, without the great work from the team we would be last

      1. We got the best fans here, otherwise this wouldn’t have been possible!

    2. Lol, yes this is it exactly. Even if they are having genuine issues, do we really believe they won’t have them ironed out in a few races? I would love to see them fighting in midfield for a change, but they’ve done too good of a job the last 8 years to believe they aren’t sandbagging.

      Last year they looked to be in way more trouble than this year and they still won the first race.

  4. petebaldwin (@)
    12th March 2022, 14:59

    Lol. Sure. Enjoy your pole next week.

    1. Maybe he’ll be on pole by a clear 5 seconds which would be surprising to be fair even for Mercedes

    2. @petebaldwin Exactly what I was thinking…

  5. Could be true. As I said previously, the car is different, could be a hero or a zero

  6. Sandbagging Ultra Pro Max…

  7. People expecting Mercedes to be a 1s clear from the rest come Bahrain but they will be surprised to find out that the gap will be actually 2.5s.

  8. He sounds so genuine I almost want to believe him. Then he says ” But from what I’m told, we have a considerable amount of pace to find.” And I’m sure he’s right.

    1. Or this could be Mercedes down playing their advantage to delay any protests from the other teams over their slim pods. if they can get past the first race with no protest then they should be able to stay with their design at least to the end of the season.

    2. So, you “want to believe” – and then he adds a statement you are sure is right. So that’s good, you have more reason to believe. Do you?

  9. This car is quite different than previous years . Perhaps their simulator models and physical cars are not as well correlated as they have been. On the track the new car looks a handfull. Smells to me that they do have serious work to do in order to catch the competition. Right now their new design philosophy is under whelming.

  10. The Mercedes underdog play is by now so well established you could almost call it policy. I do believe HAM and Toto do it for different reasons though.

    Toto does it for tactical reasons, because he knows that if Mercedes is broadly seen to have the huge advantage that it has, new regulations would be introduced to curb their advantage, even tempering their own pace to seem less dominant than they are (winning with 20s clear is just as good as winning with 2 mins clear after all).

    HAM however does it because he is frustrated. HAMs frustration comes from the fact that while his stats are second to none, everyone realizes that the car advantage he has had over the past 7 years has equally been second to none as well.
    Thus, the incessant underdog plays, the repeated ‘we are not fast enough’ radio messages etcetera. He seems so desperate to validate his wins as not being down to the car, but to him.

    1. Good point.. That question of Car or Driver, imo was the reason they ‘allowed’ Redbull such an advantage last season. Mercedes was always planning to come back and snatch victory to make Hamilton’s 8th championship a closer run story. They just didn’t figure on Masi with his own spin on the rules..

      1. @ajaxn
        “They just didn’t figure on Masi with his own spin on the rules.”

        Translates into: They just didn’t figure on the many rookie mistakes and subpar performances from Lewis.
        (Who was only kept in the race by Masi waving red flags on every occasion Lewis blew it.)

      2. Ajaxn, doesn’t let me reply to your bottom comment, if you justify hamilton as a deserving 2016 champion (and I agree) because of reliability, you have to justify verstappen as a deserving 2021 champion because of baku, silverstone and hungary, stuff outside his control and even if you think silverstone is, he still wins the title without masi’s interference without the other 2.

    2. “the car advantage he has had over the past 7 years” – I keep forgetting that Hamilton was the only driver with a Mercedes for the last 7 years! Thanks for the reminder!

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        12th March 2022, 16:49

        @harrydymond – Would you say beating Bottas and Rosberg is that exceptional? Worthy of being called the greatest of all time?

        1. The greatest of all time but he managed to lose a championship vs his teammate

          1. How quickly we forget.

            He didn’t so much loose to Rosberg, as Rosberg we gifted the championsip.

            This was the year when the garages were swapped, the year when Hamilton was beset with reliability issues.
            Anyone remember Malaysia 2016. In the end the championship came down to 5 points.


          2. Yes, we quickly forget a string of disastrous starts and blame it on conspiracies and stuff

          3. He lost over 50 points in bad starts, but his fans prefer the malesya version

        2. Narrowly beating Rosberg and then losing to him I think you mean. And Rosberg was never considered a super talent.

        3. Let me ask – is a driver’s exceptionalism only defined by the quality of his team mates? Should we say Max is nothing special because his team mates were Ricciardo, Gasly, Albon and Perez? Is any of these better than Bottas? Is there nothing else you’ve seen about Lewis over the course of his career that suggests he is an extraordinary driver?

          1. Anyone better the bottas you ask: yes! Ricciardo, perez probably albon and gasly as well. Any other questions?

          2. @Emma – It’s a waste of your time feeding the trolls. Awareness impairment is incurable I’m afraid.

          3. Yes,. being generous Sir is in the top 200 F1 drivers ever, still extraordinary compared to the average grandma

          4. Max did beat Lewis though in equal/lesser machinery and with a few DNF’s thrown in. Without the DNF’s he would have completely wiped the floor with him. Lewis has only ever beaten an inferior team mate in a Merc up until now. I feel Lewis wants to put this right before he retires.

        4. Ah yes, because as we all know, Mercedes have come in 1 & 2 in every race in the last seven years. At least, if you were someone who never watched F1, that’s what you would think if just went by this “Hamilton’s car was SOOOO superior over the last 7 years that his championships mean nothing” hyperbole. The reality is, that when you look at the performance of both Mercedes cars relative to the competition, there is plenty of evidence that it was very often Hamilton that made the difference.

          To answer your specific question, Bottas is nothing special but Rosberg is/was easily one of the most underrated F1 drivers of all time.

          1. Rosberg wasn’t bad, and hamilton is a top driver who comprehensively beat him, but from here to calling him the greatest of all times… he would certainly need a lot more years in a car that isn’t light years ahead of the others to be considered for that imo (yes, I’m a schumacher fan, a driver who only had 3 years in a car that could be considered dominant, and neutral fans such as the f1 metrics blogger don’t consider 2001 dominant, which I do).

          2. Mercedes cars were so bad that the team always won with between 150 and 300 points on the second team in the constructor championship

            All thanks to the pure talent of Sir Lewis who gifted them of this great results with a subpar car

      2. The other car was driven by a mobile chicane if Hamilton was behind or a road block if opponents were behind

    3. He had the best car and lost twice, once to his teammate, so he needs to point out “the difficulties” if he wants to be remembered as the GOAT.
      I think the whole sport is tired of Mercedes sandbagging every year. Specially since their advantage has been the greatest in history that past comments in perspective look like a big joke. Do you remember 2019, or the pink MB? They were also complaining back then when their old spec was the third on the grid.

  11. Usual ‘Mercedes-PR’ paranoia aside, I think it’s more or less what it says on the packet: the development potential is big (or huge) but so are the current stability issues and that performance is not yet unlocked. Far from it. It’s fairly obvious why. The innovation of the design – and maybe its potentially controversial aspect, thought that topic seems to have faded – means that Mercedes wanted to launch the design late, during final testing, with the downside that they will need the first practice sessions and races to really understand what they’ve created. Meanwhile Red Bull (and to a lesser extent Ferrari) look much more settled with their own, slightly less innovative but still exceptional, car designs.
    I don’t think Hamilton is pretending. However, it may well be that Mercedes unlock part of that potential between now and qualifying in the first race.

    1. That’s more or less how I see it too @david-br

    2. I have been looking for a technical article which describes the development potential of the different car designs. Do you reference or is this personal opinion (no criticism intended).

      1. Just reading a few articles and listening to YouTube opinion (Craig Scarborough etc.). Logically if the other teams have all been looking at narrowing the sidepods, then the Mercedes solution (bar potential cooling and packaging issues) would seem an ideal direction to go. Supposedly their porpoise problem isn’t directly connected to the new sidepods (it was there before).
        That said, they may have issues and still be holding back performance as a tactic. Put it another way: if they were 2 seconds ahead of everyone this week, certainly the chance of appeals and calls for bans would be a lot stronger. I just think the Red Bull looks too good for Mercedes to be realistically that level of pace ahead. But really only they know.

        1. @david-br I think your two posts above are a good and fair analysis. Personally I’m not convinced there is ‘huge’ potential yet to come from them, as I simply don’t think the regs are broad enough to allow one top team to be massively ahead of another top team like the 2 seconds you suggest, at least not for long, in spite of the extreme side pods, but let’s see what Mercedes can do if/when they get on top of the porpoising first and foremost. Once that happens then we’ll really see what they have. Just doesn’t seem to me RBR are suffering from porpoising, so that may have them a step ahead right from the start, able to concentrate on other things as they too will progress, and then much might depend on how long it takes the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes to tackle the porpoising. And will they have to sacrifice some performance in order to stop the bouncing?

        2. I see the logic and thanks for the reference. What I have heard, is the different side pods are a solution to the same problem which is fair enough. I see there is some excitement regarding small or no side pods (perhaps because they are different). But what I sense at this time is non of the commentary know which is the best solution or which has the most potential. I also wonder if more important elements of the package will come to the fore once the season gets going.

          Regarding the outcomes of testing, I ignore this unless there is something definitive which I do not see this year.

  12. LHistherealworldchampion
    12th March 2022, 16:28

    I hope they get to fix their car quickly so they can go back to dominating, LH for his 9th world title

  13. Merc is NOT fastest at the moment, look at the times.
    Merc technical guy was interviewed, states that their current cure for ‘porpoising’ involves things like raising ride height, taking off all the downforce the design promised on the drawing board.

    “I think we have far bigger challenges this time and they’re not one-week turn-arounds. It will take a little bit longer. But from what I’m told, we have a considerable amount of pace to find.”

    That makes sense, and matches my observations FWIW.
    Just calm down everybody, we will know in a week or so if the 8 times champions have found some of that performance.
    Some of you need to look up the term ‘projection’ IMHO.

    1. Noframingplease (@)
      12th March 2022, 16:44

      @biker56 New in this sport? Funny you are mentioning lap times. Everyone in the pitbox, and media (but of course not the british) heard that MB drives decreased their speed earlier at the end of the straight.

      1. @nofanboysplease no, followed a lot of different motorsports for decades, thanks.
        After the shakedown, and 3 days of tests, quali sim, race sim, long runs, low fuel, etc. etc. the teams have some idea about pace, although one important part of this has been reliability etc.
        As to top speed at end of straight – do you think that might be because MB have a serious issue at high speed? Which might be a challenge? Which could take some work to solve? No?

  14. I can believe they’re not quickest now. But I also believe there’s a good chance the car has sufficient potential for them to be at least equal quickest in 2-3 races time.

    That said, the cars are different this year and theirs is even more different. Maybe they’ve seen one thing on the simulations and are seeing something quite different now it’s on a race track… no team can get it right every time.

  15. “My team don’t make mistakes”

    1. This might come back to haunt MB and LH. :)

  16. We all know what happened to the “boy who cried wolf” (or the wolf that cried). Now there are some/many people that will doubt everything that is stated by MB/LH on any topic; which has an impact on their credibility. But that is the consequence of their actions and they own it.

    1. TheStigsLessTalentedMate
      12th March 2022, 21:22


  17. Now that the traditional Mercedes sandbagging festival (aka pre-season test) has finished: When do you think Hamilton will clinch his 8th world title?

    1. He has to beat russell to do that!

  18. Mercedes? Crying Wolff, again? Suprised.

    If anything the more crying they do the more confident they are, so I’d imagine they’ll grab pole and win by a ridiculous margin.

  19. Alex McFarlane
    12th March 2022, 17:04

    Having watched all of today’s testing, Mercedes looked well off Red Bull and behind Ferrari, at least in terms of raw pace.

    Surprisingly, it doesn’t look like they’ve got to grips with their porpoising, car looked like a bouncy castle round much of the circuit.

    I think their struggles this test are real, but it could be if their concept can be ironed out there may be more scope for development and improvement that others.

  20. “Oh wait, I forgot we had the engine at 30%”

  21. Every.Single.Year

  22. For me personally it just seems like LH is saying it straight. Of course the majority here are making the jokes about this just being their usual ‘woe is us’ talk, only for them to come out swinging, but realistically has LH or the others at Merc talked this way in the past, and then added the “surprise” that those who are saying they are just talking themselves down, will get? No I think they have talked themselves down in the past and then let the car do the talking after that, with no talk of a ‘surprise’ as in a disappointment potentially there.

    I think they are genuinely not there yet, and of course I have no doubt that if any team can find their way with the car it will be them, but I think it is true that it is going to take them some time. We’ve got Ferrari looking really solid even with porpoising, and we’ve got RBR that look solid and don’t seem to be complaining about porpoising, and to me that right off the bat puts Mercedes half a step behind, at least initially, and depending on when and how competitive they become, that could end up too late if Ferrari and RBR are already taking the lion’s share of the points. It could happen (as one scenario) that by the time Merc catch up they will indeed have to surpass and not just catch up to the others, in order to make up for lost ground early.

    I guess my bottom line is that we have heard LH/TW/Merc often talk like this before, but never with them adding the ‘no really we’re not kidding this time’, to it.

    1. @robbie, I agree.

      I think they might well have gone too extreme trying to find a magic bullet and having tested a fairly conservative design during the first round, have now gotten themselves in a bit of a pickle during the second.

      Sure, I think they’ll find a sweet spot, but I suspect this year they might just end up doing a Red Bull in 2017/18/19 where they only find it around 1/2 way during the season.

      Let’s see what next week brings, but I don’t see this as sandbagging because this year no one can really afford to.

  23. This has been a major part of their strategy since 2014. Why would we expect anything else?

  24. TOP 7 Mercedes Problems – You Can Fix Yourself! | Tips & Tricks

  25. Here we go again.

    Mercedes front row lockout, 1-2 and fastest lap incoming…..

    And we’ll get the whole ‘Wow this was so unexpected, what an amazing job we have done to turn it around so quickly, what a team this is, you have no idea how hard we have had to work to make this happen’ speech from Lewis and Toto.

  26. I believe it this time, yes they will be a top 3 car, that’s almost guaranteed but optimising performance to find a tenth to be top seems a long way off. That car looked awful. The question is how did this happen, have they lost too many essential people to other teams?

    1. Not sure if it stays this way. But as I stated before. Changing your car from an A spec, to a B spec shows serious development problems. In the past Mercedes was able to throw in some millions but that is not longer a possibility.
      So for now they have a very bad start but will probably solve most of the problems. Point is two back to back races with little development in between.

      1. There has never been an A spec and a B spec.
        Its the Merc car with different variables.
        Mercedes like to control the amount of variables so they can correlate the data more accurately.
        In the same way that RB didn’t introduce their “upgrade” until day 3 and even further “upgrades” during the afternoon session.

  27. Naughty Neutral
    12th March 2022, 19:34

    Oh, Hamilton, please put a sock in it. We’ve heard this all before.

  28. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    12th March 2022, 19:48

    It certainly would be a surprise if Lewis and Toto would tell the truth for once.
    I really hope they are telling the truth and that they have got things wrong and fall back into the midfield.

    They have been ahead long enough, having the fastest car for last 8 years, time for a change.

  29. This is a joke right? The best team on the grid cannot raise a bit the back of the car like the rest of the field did and stiffen their suspension? Come on Toto & Lewis this is a fun episode alone in drive to survive next year where we will see again “The Underdogs” that bounced back with huge effort etc etc etc lol

  30. Why do people always foxus on ther 7 Mercedes years only when it comes to Lewis. He did not start f1 7/8 yrs ago in a merc. He started along time before that with mclaren against a double world champion, Alonso who beat Michael Shumacher twice in a row. He was as good if not better than alonso in his rookie year. The next year he was champion. In Vettel and rebulls dominant years he was the onky driver to beat them to pole in 1 of the years at 1 of the races. He has also won a race every year in f1. To say his partners are average then is to say alonso and Shumacher are average also. Lewis will never be deemed the greatest to many because he doesnt fit the traditional image i guess.

    1. It’s simple, without Mercedes Lewis would never won that many championships.
      It’s very likely he would have won 1 or something, but the Mercedes is responsible for the rest.
      That does not diminish his achievement. Even driving in front race after. Race takes a lot of concentration. The pressure is always high as you can see. And hear on hos on board moaning when thongs go different.
      But still for now one of the greatest drives of all times. And the fun part is the fact. That on his peak be was beaten by verstappen .

    2. Oh, 2005 counts for beating schumacher in that ferrari? Then let’s see a fair comparison, maybe button counts 2009 as beating hamilton in that horrible mclaren!

    3. As erikje said, many of those who don’t consider him the greatest don’t think that because he doesn’t fit the traditional image, simply because of the excessive years in a dominant car, in fact about that winning only 1 title if not for mercedes, hamilton admitted this himself in an article not long ago.

    4. Oh he is good and fast. But not 7 championships fast. Unprecedented dominance of a car during an entire regulatory period. Good for him, but acknowledging the role luck played in his tally would be far more classy than the perpetual mind games displayed.

  31. So many people who are convinced that the internet is right, and reality is wrong.

    The car is an obvious pig to drive, and highly unstable, with massive amounts of porpoising. That’s not sandbagging. That’s a busted aero package.

    Mercedes wouldn’t be pursuing this design if they didn’t believe it has the potential to be faster than every other car out there– but they’ve got a lot of work to do to reach that place, and I’m not sure they can do it by Friday.

    1. From watching a couple of videos and on-boards, it looks like the Mercedes is running an incredibly stiff suspension, front and rear, likely to combat porpoising. It isn’t working … not yet.
      The go-cart like motion of the car over bumps was obvious.
      Watching the RedBull and Max’s fast lap, the car was planted, smooth in comparison and stable over the curbs. He made it look easy. Pretty scary how easy.
      The development potential for the Mercedes as we see it now, is probably enormous, but they have to get on top of a few other only partially related issues. Rest assured, they will and everyone else … look-out.
      Shaping up to be an interesting start to the season.

  32. I actually believe Mercedes this time.

    Red Bull and Ferrari are looking very good.

    Will be interesting come race weekend.

    1. I want to believe Mercedes. I just can’t, given their comments vs reality in the past. Would however be such a gift to this sport to have them in the mid-field for a season

  33. What was Hamilton’s penalty for not attending the Title presentation function, if any. Does anyone know?

    1. 1-2 races with a dog car and then business as usual with full dominance on a Mercedes rocket.

  34. Wolf crier and Leflop giving their obligatory “woe is me” opinion on pre season testing

  35. Feel for russel. Just got out of a backmarker team and joined a top team at its decl

  36. At its decline

  37. What is this, smack talk Lewis and Mercedes do?

    Imagine Larry Bird.. Walking in to a basketball game like that.

    Just lame.. It seems like a PR statement that has 0 benefit to anyone.

    Will we be surprised by their great pace? Will bad pace surprise us? No they are risking a lot, but I wont be surprised if they need B car in 3 races..

    It would do a world of good to F1 if Ferrari and McLaren are top teams in first race.

    We all know by race 10 we can bet on Mercedes being P1 or P2, maybe they will get it wrong initially, but like Lewis said.. His team does not make mistakes..

  38. God, I hope they are dead last!

  39. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    13th March 2022, 11:01

    And there are STILL people who buy this.

    How gullible are some folks? Do they also believe they’ve inherited millions from a far-uncle when they get an email?

  40. Want a shocker? I predict .8 quicker than ferrari.

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