Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022

Mercedes are nine tenths off Red Bull, six tenths off Ferrari – Hamilton

2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes’ practice pace proves the team were not bluffing about the problems they are having with their W13.

The seven-times world champion ended second practice in ninth place, 1.2 seconds off Max Verstappen. Hamilton had to contend with glazed brakes and a DRS fault, but team mate George Russell was still almost six tenths of a second away from Verstappen, and slower than both Ferraris.

This morning Verstappen ridiculed Mercedes’ claims they are not in competitive shape for the start of the season. But Hamilton said their practice pace showed they had been sincere about their problems.

“I told you in the last week we’re not going to be in the race for a win here,” he said. “If you look at the Red Bull they’re a long, long way ahead. It’s in the region of eight to nine tenths ahead of us and Ferrari something like half a second, six tenths ahead of us. So we’re fighting and scrapping with whoever’s behind them.”

A “longer term” fix is needed for the car’s lack of pace, he said. “We’ve had small problems in the past, relatively. Compared to this year, we’ve had much, much smaller problems.

“We’re faced with much, much bigger problems this year. Everything we do to try and kind of fix it, doesn’t really change that. It appears that it’s probably going to be a more longer-term fix. Nothing in the short term.”

Russell echoed Hamilton’s words, saying Mercedes are “a long way off” their biggest rivals. He suggested the team may even have fallen behind Alfa Romeo – who his predecessor Valtteri Bottas has joined – and AlphaTauri.

“I think it’s clear it’s all about lap time and we’re certainly not where we want to be,” said Russell.” I think we’ve made a bit of progress solving some issues, but the pace is just not there at all at the moment. So we need to really go over the data tonight to understand.

“We’re both struggling a bit with the car and we’re a long way off the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari. Even the likes of AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo are seemingly on our pace or even quicker. So we’ve got a bit of work to do.”

Despite his best lap time being good enough for fourth, Russell believes Mercedes’ deficit is more apparent during longer runs.

“That’s one lap – I don’t think you can read too much into that one lap,” Russell said.

“I think the high fuel pace is a bit more representative. And we were consistently over a second slower than where our rivals are, so I know I need to look into the data a bit further. Maybe there’s a reason for it. But from our side, we’re definitely not overly happy with the car right now and we’ve got some work to do.”

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2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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95 comments on “Mercedes are nine tenths off Red Bull, six tenths off Ferrari – Hamilton”

  1. haha yes boys

    1. I too believed that Santa was real until he forgot the bags..

  2. Sad for russel. Mans unluckier than alonso.

    1. Looking at where Williams appears to be, I wouldn’t call it unlucky.

    2. It seems both Russell and Bottas made a step forward ;)

      1. Hahaha I just noticed.

  3. But the dumb will keep shouting Mercedes are the quickest, Mercedes are sandbagging. If Mercedes and Lewis turn this around and win races later in the season, the same people will refuse to give them credit and will shout Mercedes were the fastest and most dominant team of the season….

    1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      18th March 2022, 18:07

      >he’s still drinking the Mercedes-coolaid before the end of the raceweekend

      It’s called practice for a reason

    2. it is never gonna change with these people…
      ham wins, it is car, ham loose, he has no skills despite car. mercedes are bad, no they are sanbagging. mercedes improve, they removed the bags… ham is a looser. he cant win without a good car. no matter what he does it is car never him!

      like max was wiping the floor with everyone in 2017-2020 in the greatest car?… only in 2021 he had a car then he was winning, so yeah it is not him, it is the car that won him the wdc (never forget to thanx to masi as well)
      like every wdc wins because of car not because of their skills… :)

      i wonder why they need drivers in these cars? the cars are so good by themselves they can let a hippo win in them

      1. Bruno Verrari
        18th March 2022, 18:23

        Loois can go to Willy.
        Does he win it there, it’s truly not about the car!

      2. I luv chicken
        18th March 2022, 18:46

        What do you mean a hippo can win? You really want Montoya back in the series?

      3. Let me remember Monaco 2021
        After a really bad performance (bottas qualified 2nd in the same car and Hamilton managed to even lose three positions in the race), Hamilton said “the team has lessons to learn”

    3. Bruno Verrari
      18th March 2022, 18:20

      Loois can now proove it’s not only about the car – else simply retire and always be remembered together with Michael…

      1. if he takes pole or win the race, it will be about car sandbagging and not about him. if he takes neither, he is a looser… right? heard these insults from clueless people many times over

    4. 8 times in a row THEY weren’t dumb tho!

  4. I’m not ruling out sandbagging until the end of Q3.

    1. @paeschli Same, although post-Friday running, I buy into their words slightly more than post-testing but waiting until QLF is still better.

    2. Naughty Neutral
      18th March 2022, 22:08

      Make that end of 2022 :-)

    3. I would say the first lap of q3, they always sandbag, but seems a stretch to me to drive slower than you can the first lap to maybe get a yellow flag the 2nd and start 10th, I think they will show their true pace at start of q3.

  5. Like if he’d said 2-3 tenths I’d have believed that but NINE?! Hahahaha nah.

    1. Wait til tomorrow Adam. I think it’ll be more than a second! You’re in for a big shock.

      1. All seriousness, I’d be completely shocked if at least one Merc is the in the top 3. They’re so renowned and known now for saying they’re awful when they’re clearly not and arrive to blow away the competition it’s incredibly difficult to trust them.

        1. I understand that and their history, although they weren’t really lying last year. Verstappen took pole and looked favourite for the win. He then went onto win several races in a row before Mercedes found their footing.

          This year is just too different. I expect the Mercedes to be fighting for wins once they unlock the potential, but right now I genuinely think they are a second off the pace. We’ll see tomorrow, but I won’t be shocked to see Hamilton out in Q2

          1. Actually mercedes had the overall best car for the first 4 races, you had bahrain which was arguable, probably strategy related, imola also arguable but hamilton was catching up during the wet phase, before his mistake, and then portugal and spain where merc was simply quicker, not to the extent of austria for red bull, but still quicker, meaning mercedes started ahead in the first few races of 2021, and also ended the year ahead.

          2. If it were very simple to do, I think we could bet all money on at least 1 mercedes driver making it into q3, just in case one of the 2 makes some mistake, proving the pace is there.

  6. The plan is to hype Ferrari and RBR in the first races so that they won’t protest Mercedes design. Once the design is confirmed for this year – it is rumoured that the FIA will do a DAS and perhaps tweak the rules for 2023 – they will unleash the beast and runaway with both championships. The W13 in its A version with the conventional sidepods cannot be 9 tenths off RBR and 6 tenths off Ferrari. They’re taking sandbagging into a whole new level this year.

    1. Thats a good hypothesis. I think Merc problems are short term even if real, within 2 race weekends max they should turn it around if they indeed have a problem.

    2. Why should they do anything to avoid pointless protests. They for sure know its within the rules, and also FIA already confirmed that.

    3. Don’t think it’s a plan… think they just have a car with huge potential, but are struggling to unlock it (in part because it’s so odd).

  7. I said after testing that it looks like they’ll be struggling to get into Q3 and I’ve seen nothing so far which changes my mind. The rule makers have got what they wanted (Mercedes a midfield team again) unfortunately it’s come at the cost of an even more dominant RedBull. Hopefully Ferrari have some pace because if not Max will have the easiest Championship in history as Perez is as far off the pace as usual.

    1. @Ben I’m sure reaching Q3 won’t be a struggle. I’d be hugely surprised if they failed at this on raw pace.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      18th March 2022, 18:36

      I’ve seen nothing to suggest the Red Bull will be dominant enough this year to take the “easiest Championship win” record away from Lewis but we’ll see.

    3. How is Red Bull even more dominant?
      They haven’t been dominant since 2014.
      In the previous article we read Red Bull is only 1/10th faster than Ferrari.
      Which is all still way less than what we had the previous years for Mercedes.
      Mercedes will be fine, I’m sure of it, because “my team doesn’t make mistakes!”

      1. They haven’t been dominant since 2014.

        I’d argue based on their qualifying and race performances in 2021 Red Bull was the dominant car.

        1. In what world is a car that doesn’t win the constructor dominant? Have you seen 1987, 1992, 1993, 2002, 2004, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2020? These are some examples of dominant cars.

        2. I think your interpretation of the word dominant might be a bit off. Mercedes and Red Bull were neck and neck all season. 1988 and 2016 are the best examples of a dominant car where the same team was on track to win every single race. We never had anything close to that last year.

      2. @ChrisVB IMHO, RedBull have not been dominant mainly because of their engine; and MB was so ahead in their engine performance. Finally Honda delivered an engine that’s on-par or better last year. So, now it’s game on.

        1. You know that now already, after 2 tests, not one single race?

    4. @Ben
      The rule makers didn’t change the rules to make Mercedes a midfield team, that’s silly, they are trying to give the fans what they want which is close racing. They also want to try and prevent the dominance that Merc had from happening again which was killing F1. It may just take a while to even out while the teams tackle the problems with ground effect.

    5. Naughty Neutral
      18th March 2022, 22:00

      An even more dominant…


      Mercedes did win the manufacturer’s title 8 times in a row, did they not?

      So, in that case, the RB was never dominant.

      1. Absolutely, it’s downright an insane claim to say a team is dominant when it doesn’t even win the title.

        To be dominant winning the title is a requirement and then you also need a massive performance compared to their rivals, all while having at least a similar reliability, so no mclaren 2005!

  8. What a joker. Nobody seriously believes this right? Oh and RB and Ferrari are 1/10th apart so how is is 6 and 9?
    Just sad really.

    1. Check the race pace on high fuel running on medium tyres by both Hamilton and Russel. Both lapping within a tenth of alonso on same tyres in the alpine. Yep 1 second is about right pal. Leclerc was around 3 tenths a lap slower than verstappen, 6 ish in front of both mercs and alonso. Check the lap charts for the 2nd half of fp2

      1. Based on the quality of his submissions, I don’t think Moi is capable of interpreting complex stuff such as race pace charts.

        1. Ah yes the inevitable ad hominem efforts. Takes a special kind of person.

          1. Go ahead then and analyse the long run data and post your findings. I’ll wait.

  9. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    18th March 2022, 18:08

    Russell echoed Hamilton’s words, saying Mercedes are “a long way off” their biggest rivals. He suggested the team may even have fallen behind Alfa Romeo


    1. What.A.Clown

      Like the new name. But how about some content to your post before you sign off?

      1. Let’s check if they’re slower than haas first, huh? Otherwise the clowns to me looks like those who earlier on said merc would be THAT slow.

      2. Meant alfa.

  10. petebaldwin (@)
    18th March 2022, 18:09

    Did no-one ready “the boy who cried wolf” to them when you were younger? If you lie enough times, people won’t believe you even if you do tell the truth.

    1. Yep, pretty much spot on.

    2. I always felt the moral of that story was that the villagers deserved to lose their sheep because they were arrogant idiots.

      Sheep were an important resource, and assuming the brat was lying was foolish.

      It’s one thing to disbelieve the comments Wolff has made over the years downplaying his team’s chances as a way of encouraging the team to do better, even when they’re at the top.

      It’s something totally different when you deliberately disbelieve actual evidence that’s right in front of your face. That makes you a flat-earther, and worthy of ridicule.

    3. And even if so, there’s grounds to say this is another lie, EVEN if by a miracle they should be the 3rd best car, they certainly wouldn’t be that far off.

    4. but post fp3 we are seeing the wolf inside the field, if not already chasing a sheep. there is a difference between seeing a team lie and then not struggle (merc 2017-2020), and seeing them bounce around like crazy at 289 kmph top speed and them trying out a new floor in fp3 which doesn’t seem to be working. also sorry i accidently reported your comment.

  11. They definitely won’t have an issue beating AR & AT. This one is certain, no matter the pace versus RBR & Ferrari.

    1. Fair comment. I expect Mercedes to be top 5 with the ability to create a race winner by the end of the season. Hamilton is a super quick racer and Russell has impressive one lap pace so I’d never rule them out. Let’s wait and see tomorrow. Not long to go now.

  12. Which will make their triumph on Sunday ever more impressive!

  13. We shall see, but i think Mercedes may well be the victims of their own slim pod designs and here’s why.

    This season new reliance on the ground effect to create downforce under the car needs the air under the skirt to be trapped there. Other teams have worked out if you create vortices which effectively roll down the car to turn inwards towards the skirt, this air flow at high speeds act to trap the air underneath.

    Its the spillage of air from under the car which is causing the Porposing effect. My belief is Mercede’s unusual slim pods may have the effect of allowing air to pass faster pass the car, without allowing the vortices to form and seal the air spillage from their skirt.

    Im sure those who devised the new rulres had an idea how it was suppose to work. The Mercedes design was unforeseen my them. The situation wasn’t helped with the rule changes allowing less wind tunnel time for the championship winners.

    1. The vortices to seal the side skirts are generated farther ahead in the “barge board” area as can be seen at 2:04 of this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3fUf8ZEhQE — the slim side pods should have nothing to do with sealing the floor. One theory is the rigidity of the floor (which is why some teams run that rod to the rear corner of the floor) is part of the porpoising issue. I suspect Mercedes are suffering from an overabundance of downforce generated by the car, which is a good problem to have especially if it comes with less drag. If that is the case I imagine they will be running low rear wings compared to other teams at many tracks.

      1. Take a look here,


        Maclaren seems to have handle on the problem. Whilst as you say Vortices are generated ahead, i am suggesting they serve other purposs, and is actually less effective on the Mercedes because the the way their body is shaped.

      2. I’m more inclined to go with the rigidity of the floor to be the primary cause. Any solution will mean an increase in weight or aerodynamic penalty.

      3. Naughty Neutral
        18th March 2022, 22:14

        It might be easier to generate vortexes, and keep the ‘alive’, against there bulk of a massive siddepod than the edge of a thin floor.


        Although RB has this huge undercut it seems that part of the sidepod flares out at about the position where the prime vortex for the latter hall of the car would be generated, i.e. the air grow the floating sidepod would increase the vortex that closes the back half of the floor.

        It’s that perhaps why on some images it almost looks like the RB has a tiny bit more take than the others?

        (Lovely topic, aerodynamics. I probably got it all wrong…)

        1. Naughty Neutral
          18th March 2022, 22:16

          Sorry about the spelling errors, my phone seems to be a little too enthusiastic… So i need to reread my posts before posting…

    2. Coventry Climax
      18th March 2022, 19:18

      Almost OK. There’s no air spillage from under the car to the outside, it’s the other way round: The cars stick to the tarmac because of vacuum underneath. If it were over-pressure underneath, they’d take off.
      So, if what you’re saying is indeed the case, and it might be so, at least it’s spillage of vacuum to the outside, or spillage of air unto the underside. Either way, inefficient sealing sounds like the issue indeed. It seems they are generating massive (but unstable/fluctuating) downforce at high speed, but much less so at lower speeds/in the corners.
      That sounds like a classic (as in old-fashioned) mistake, as the most gain can always be made in the slowest parts of the track, but make no mistake; Mercedes knows perfectly well how it’s supposed to work, as does any team.
      But that’s not exactly the same as getting it to perform to optimum right from the start.

  14. Russel showed us a glimpse of what Merc is capable of, sure there are problems, but nothing that cant be fixed. Once fixed that Merc would be a rocketship.

  15. Predicted Hamilton is done, somewhere in the midfield. Unless… they get that car in proper shape.

    1. They may run the car with a higher ride heigth than normal and take the hit for no down force but a faster stright line speed. Or they may in time intruduce somethinig mechanical to prevent the car going too low. This would be far from ideal but it would by them some time.

    2. Naughty Neutral
      18th March 2022, 22:04

      You know, if even the GOAT cannot make this new car work… Then it appears the car may be more important than the driver…

      What does that say about the last seven titles?

      1. I’m always curious when I see comments like this. Who would you consider to be the GOAT? My pick is Jim Clark but he’d not have won a single championship if not for the Lotus 25 and 33.

        1. I consider very hard to beat El Chueco, always at the top of percentage-based stats. Also have a soft spot for Jochen Rindt, who could not fulfill his potential (Neither did Jim Clark, but came closer). The three big Scots (Clark, Moss, Stewart) are easily top 10 guys. And you cannot ignore Schuey. Of the present drivers only Alonso sits in my top five. On the other hard, neither Ayrton not Sir make my top 20.

  16. Is everyone in the comments section really gonna base his statements on the fastest times when his comments were obviously about the long runs? Come on guys lol.

    Check the long run pace and you’ll see Russel is in the ball park. Although he forgot to mention alpine and alonso as another benchmark. The 2 mercs and alonso did some laps on mediuns on high fuel in the second half of the session. Alpine is on par with merc atm on race pace. Let’s see how it changes for tomorrow and Sunday

  17. I’ll believe it when they struggle to get into Q3 and finish 6th and 8th on Sunday, until then I’ll take this with an entire mountain of salt

  18. My team does not make mistakes…

    1. *eating the bait, delicious*

      What mistake have they actually made?

      1. Ask Hamilton, he is stating they are 0.9s off. That’s serious mistake.

        1. No mistake has been made they have problems to fix on the car, if they fix all problems and are still adrift or better still ending re-designing, mistakes were made in concept and Hamilton and Allison will have to chow down on humbling pie. Should be a fun season

  19. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    18th March 2022, 19:47

    Poor Hamilton sure he can make up a full second based on his fans calling him the GOAT, the Messiah and being a 7 times WDC.

    It always was only Hamilton that won the WDC never the car so why is he moaning about the car – that 9 tenths must be him driving badly.

    Then again it is only Friday and Mercedes is still to return all that sand to the dessert :-).

  20. If this is true, which is a big if, than it is welcome to stay for the remainder of the season. Totally fed up with this team personally.

  21. I think Hamilton will be on pole. He’s just too good to be in the midfield.

    1. Ah, a copy cat. Thanks for the compliment!

  22. Slice of Humble pie please.

  23. With the direction they have taken, it’s not going to be without its troubles. They’ll figure it out and whilst they do I want Ferrari and Rbr to have a fight up front…

  24. Merc the kings of F1 propaganda

  25. Some of the comments here are just plain crazy.

    Did you not see the Mercedes on track?

    I can’t understand how some think that it’s not possible that the Mercedes car has some major issues and that they’re struggling to get it to perform.

    Yes, I’m certain that eventually they’ll sort it out but suggestions that they’re still sandbagging are just hilarious.

    1. It doesn’t matter how the car behaves, the #1 rule is don’t trust what mercedes affiliated people say, so until q3 the assumption is they’re AT LEAST competitive for pole, if then they end up half a sec off better.

    2. You are right everybody can see MB has a problem with the car. But I think it is strange all Mercedes teams are struggling if you compare the laptimes. So maybe they have turned down the engines in practice to prevent relaiablity issues later in the season. But we don’t really know until Q3 but I doubt MB will be on pole today.

  26. Boy Hamilton trying to fool the other teams as if it’s 2015. I predict a Mercedes 1-2 in qualifying, 5/10ths clear of the next car. When asked about their statements before the race they will be puzzled. “Our mechanics worked nonstop overnight to overcome the deficit, they deserve the credit”.

  27. And if you thought Sir Lewis was annoying already…

  28. 9 tens down plus the 10 grid spot penalty for his non attendance at the end of last year puts him behind the 8 ball from the start.

  29. Of course Hamilton, I believe you 100%, in fact I think you’re being your usual optimistic and positive self. You’re probably 1.2 seconds off but your driving skill is worth 6 tenths faster than the car’s potential
    As expected from the GOAT, the HUMBLE CHAMPION
    My defending Champion, my legit 2021 WDC
    The one who does no wrong, the one who does not tell lies

  30. Simply Wow, for all the stupidity of the anti-Merc and anti-Ham comments here. Sorry, but this shows the plain dumbness of your toxic thinking.

    Merc obviously had lots of problems, but maybe its possible they sort them out pretty spontaneous. Something with their radical concept seems not to work currently.

    To blame them of sandbagging is as stupid as #fill-in-the-most-stupid-thing-you-can-think-of-here#.

    1. I filled in:roman.

    2. #R-o-m-a-n#

  31. I don’t think Merc are sandbagging. I think they definitely have some issues. I’ve seen it written elsewhere that porpoising is still an issue.

    When it actually comes to qualifying I expect to see both cars in the top 7 or 8. I doubt very much either of them will be in the top 3. I think Merc can solve their problems though. They always do. So this advantage some other teams have may only last a few races.

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