Lewis Hamilton has admitted he will “not miss” his current Mercedes car and claimed his attention has already turned to next year’s design with nine races still remaining of the season. The seven-time champion even hinted Mercedes will need to take inspiration from Red Bull and Ferrari’s packages to get back to the front.
Mercedes have taken a backwards step this weekend after George Russell claimed pole in Hungary. Hamilton was only quick enough for seventh in Q3 with Russell just behind in eighth.
However, more shocking was Mercedes’ almost two-second gap to Max Verstappen with the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz still over a second ahead. Hamilton was asked how surprised he was to see the massive gap to the leaders after a poor qualifying.
He replied: “I mean everyone’s working for improvements. We come here and we came here very very optimistic that we could be close, half a second who knows. And to be 1.8 seconds behind is a real kick in the teeth. It is what it is. It’s a car we continue to struggle with and definitely won’t miss it at the end of the year.
“For me it’s just about focussing on how we build and design next year’s car. The other two teams ahead of us are in another league but our car looks so much different to theirs. So we have a lot of work to do, we will do the best we can with what we have for the rest of the season.”
However, Hamilton will start on the second row of the grid in fourth after three drivers inside the top 10 were handed penalties. Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Esteban Ocon will be demoted to the back of the grid after fitting new parts.
But, Russell believes Mercedes’ chances of taking advantage of the penalties to score a podium appear slim. The former Williams star said: “I think it’s unlikely we will be on the podium tomorrow in all honesty.
Not the qualifying performance we were hoping for. It's P7 and P8 for Lewis and George. They will start tomorrow's race from P4 and P5. A chance to fight for the podium and good points. 💪 pic.twitter.com/RoJ9qpTYxp
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) August 27, 2022
He said: “We have still got Carlos and Checo there and Max is going to slice through the field pretty quickly. I don’t know, we need to look overnight, try and understand it, qualifying is out of the way which is our weak point and try and be faster tomorrow.
“[The mood] is obviously not great for sure because we want more than this. We’re Mercedes and qualifying P7 and P8 is not where we want to be. We know that’s not where the car is.
“We know we probably don’t have the fastest car or the second fastest car but we definitely have a car that’s capable of more than P8 or P7. So yeah, we have work to do.”