Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes won’t be competing for wins when it heads into the start of the 2022 season at the Bahrain Grand Prix next weekend.
The first race of the season takes place Sunday March 20 (10am Eastern on ESPN) and until the weekend testing block on the same track, Hamilton had been trading as favorite. Not any more though….
Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen produced a blistering performance Saturday to blow the competition out of the water – Mercedes included.
While Hamilton’s teammate George Russell admitted ‘the performance just isn’t there’, Hamilton offered an even more damning assessment of where Mercedes is at heading into the opener.
“At the moment, I don’t think we will be competing for wins. Obviously next week we will get a much better showing of our pace, but I think [other] people will surprise maybe. People keep talking about us talking ourselves down, but it’s a bit different this year.
“We are not the quickest at the moment. I think Ferrari look to be the quickest, perhaps Red Bull and then maybe us or McLaren, I don’t know. But we are currently not at the top.”
Hamilton might have changed that assessment of Ferrari and Red Bull after watching Verstappen blast round the circuit almost seven-tenths of a second faster than any other car.
Afterwards the Dutchman piled on the agony for his rivals by saying he hadn’t even been ‘giving it full beans’. Wow.
It is worth remembering that Mercedes struggling in testing in Bahrain in 2021, and then came right back out to beat Verstappen and Red Bull in the first GP of the season. Hamilton isn’t sure we’ll get a repeat though.
“It feels a lot different [to 2021]. It’s not going to look as good as it did last year, with the difficult session we had… and then switch over to the race.
“I think we have far bigger challenges this time and turnarounds that will take a lot longer. From what I’m told, we have a lot of pace to find.”
Bahrain Grand Prix 2022 Latest Odds
Like we said, Verstappen is now favorite on the back of Saturday. Here’s the latest:
+235 Max Verstappen (PointsBet)
+250 Lewis Hamilton (BetMGM, Borgata)
+550 Charles Leclerc (DraftKings)
+900 Carlos Sainz (PointsBet)
+1200 George Russell (BetMGM, Borgata)
+2200 Sergio Perez (FanDuel, PointsBet)
+2800 Lando Norris (DraftKings, bet365)
+6500 Daniel Ricciardo (DraftKings)
+6600 Pierre Gasly (Widely available)
+8000 Fernando Alonso (Widely available)
NB: Odds Correct on Sunday March 13
While Verstappen is favorite for Sunday, online bookmakers are definitely not writing off Hamilton’s chances of an eighth World Championship title. He remains favorite – just at best odds of +175 (bet $100 to win $175).