Hamilton’s foul-mouthed message from engineer as star looks to return

Hamilton opens up on plans to remain in F1 ahead of new season

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Lewis Hamilton will be desperate to give his Mercedes colleagues something to cheer about at this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after a less-than-impressive start to the new campaign by the Silver Arrows thus far. Hamilton could only manage a fifth-placed finish at the season opener in Bahrain earlier this month, with Mercedes still lagging well behind the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari at the very front of the pecking order as things stand.

The historic German team endured a dramatic fall from grace over the course of last year as they slumped to a third-place finish in the Constructors’ Championship standings, ending their eight-year stronghold on the end-of-season honours in the process as Red Bull wiped the floor with them to mark a campaign to forget. Mercedes worked hard on their unique design concept over the winter and would have been hoping for a return to the top this year, although the evidence so far suggests that it could be another difficult season for Hamilton over the coming weeks and months.

The 38-year-old endured a difficult time of things at last year’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, limping to a lowly 10th-placed finish a day after he was sensationally knocked out of Q1 in a hammer blow for Mercedes on the streets of Jeddah. He only managed to climb five positions over the course of the 50-lap contest, with his lacklustre performance marking a sign of things to come for the Silver Arrows as the scale of their downfall becomes painfully apparent for the very first time.

Hamilton cut a frustrated figure in the immediate aftermath of the race as he pulled up in parc ferme and told his team: “Another tough day in the office guys, but thank you so much for trying.” His race engineer Peter Bonnington did his best to remain optimistic in spite of the challenges facing Mercedes, though, as he replied: “Yeah, hopefully not too many more s*** days, Lewis.”

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Things failed to get much better for Hamilton in spite of his engineer’s post-race verdict as he failed to pick up a single win over the course of the 2022 season, with the man from Stevenage eventually finishing 214 points behind title-winner Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship standings. It remains to be seen whether another fruitless campaign will unfold for Hamilton this time around, with Mercedes still working hard to put things right at their Brackley headquarters in order to give him the best chance of returning to the top of the pile as quickly as possible.

Hamilton will desperately be hoping to avoid another Q1 exit in Saudi Arabia this weekend as F1 returns to the Gulf state, although Mercedes will be in a better position to trouble the top positions in Jeddah than they were at the same circuit a year ago. They are no longer struggling with the bouncing on straights that plagued their efforts throughout the previous campaign, with their car having since been lifted higher off the ground as a result of a small change to the technical regulations for the 2023 season.

Mercedes are still lacking in terms of outright pace, though, which means that Hamilton will be a firm outsider to beat Verstappen to the chequered flag even if he manages to qualify well on Saturday. However, team principal Toto Wolff has remained mostly optimistic since the Silver Arrows fell below expectations at the Bahrain Grand Prix and recently insisted that plenty of frank conversations have been held as part of an early-season inquest in the weeks since.

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“Our performance in Bahrain wasn’t where we want it to be, but this is the position we find ourselves in and it is already full steam ahead on the car, understanding it and working to get it in a better place,” Wolff told the Mercedes website. “That’s an exciting challenge for all of us.

“Since Bahrain, we have had open and honest discussions from which we started to plan our fight back. In the short term, leaving no stone unturned in the search for performance. In the longer term, focusing our development to determine how we get to the front. I’ve already felt the energy and determination in the factory and know that will continue moving forward.

“Anything can happen in motor racing, so we’ll be working in Jeddah to maximise every part of our performance, chasing every point, every position, and every millisecond. That’s one of the huge strengths of our driver line-up with Lewis and George [Russell]. We are racers and giving everything we’ve got, every time we go on track.”

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