- Lewis Hamilton admits that Mercedes-AMG’s 2023 car is not good enough.
- The driver hopes the car will improve throughout the year, putting them in a position to challenge for wins.
- Hamilton hit out at former drivers questioning his future in the sport.
Lewis Hamilton admitted on Thursday that he expects to struggle again in the early races this season, but hit back at observers who have suggested Mercedes’ lack of pace is why he is yet to sign a new contract.
Speaking to reporters ahead of Sunday’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, the 38-year-old seven-time Formula 1 world champion conceded that Mercedes are “not where we want to be”.
“On a positive note, not having any bouncing is a huge plus,” he added, referring to the porpoising at high speed that was a particular problem for the Mercedes car during the 2022 season.
“We don’t have that now, so we can focus on pure performance.”
‘I’m a fighter’
Hamilton denied claims made by former world champions Damon Hill and Jenson Button, who are working as pundits for Sky Sports, that he was considering leaving Mercedes if the team could not regain a competitive level of performance.
He enters the final year of his current contract this season.
“I’m a fighter,” he said.
“And we fight as a team. I love the challenge of finding solutions, and I still believe I am capable of putting the car in places that others perhaps are not able to, and I love that challenge.
“Ultimately, it’s people creating rumours without facts. It’s never helpful. You would have thought they would have both known by now that I’ve been with Mercedes since I was 13.
“And having a difficult year as we had last year, I’m still here. And whether or not we have another difficult year this year, I’ll still be here.
“Of course, I wish that we start the season with a great car, but it’s the journey, I think, that really counts.
“So, there is no hold up with our contract. I’ve always been very, very relaxed. I don’t feel like I’ve got to get it done right this second. I’m in a very fortunate position.”