(CNN) Lewis Hamilton said his Mercedes team was “going backwards” after a poor performance at the weekend’s season-opening grand prix. Bahrain.
The seven-time world champion struggled to finish fifth, finishing seventh on the grid, nearly 51 seconds behind. Race winner Max Verstappen.
Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell was a disappointing seventh 2023 Formula One season for Mercedes.
Afterwards, Hamilton had an honest reaction to how his car and his crew fared in contrast to the others.
“We certainly cannot fight them at this time — [Red Bull] Like the Astons were a lot faster than us,” the 38-year-old said.
“We’re the fourth fastest team now as opposed to third last year. We’re going backwards, [so] We have a lot of work to do to close that gap.”
Defending world champion Verstappen made his mark on the new season with a dominant race, while his team-mate Sergio Perez completed a Red Bull one-two.
More than 20 years after his F1 debut, Fernando Alonso put in an underwhelming performance of the weekend, although the 41-year-old finished third on his debut for Aston Martin.
The two-time world champion said the whole team was “very proud” of how the car performed in the race.
Alonso’s car highlights from the season opener came in battles with Hamilton — a wheel-to-wheel scrap at the start and end of the race — where the Spaniard came out on top.
Hamilton expressed his delight at the thrill of the battle, but also his disappointment at the overall outcome.
“I really loved the race. I got a great start, Fernando got by in Turn 4 and I was like: ‘Oh jeez, that’s a great start to the race.’ It felt like one of my best opening laps,” Hamilton said.
“Then I was sliding. At the beginning I was too low, I took the wing too much, I couldn’t get around some corners and I couldn’t keep up with the guys in front.
“My middle position was good and at the end, I was very close to catching Carlos [Sainz for fourth position]But still [it was] Not enough.”
Coming into the 2023 F1 season, Mercedes is stuck developing its unique “zero sidepod” design, which it struggled with last season.
After the race, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff called Sunday “one of the worst days in racing” while promising “radical” changes.
“Not really well, we were short of pace front, right and centre,” Wolff told Sky Sports.
“Red Bull is on another planet. That hurts because they’re so far away, it reminds me of our best years because we’re just a second behind everyone else.
“That’s the benchmark, we have to do one after the other to come back and we can do it. We can, absolutely we can. I think it has to be more serious in steps than just hoping to improve by three tenths. .”