Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have had a pretty hot period since the start of the 2022 season and their title hopes look bleak just two races into the season
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Ultimately it was a deeply frustrating weekend for Hamilton as he was unable to match his rather surprising third place finish in the first race of the season in Bahrain last week. The Brit mighty struggled with his car all week and had one of the worst qualifying performances of his career on Saturday.
Hamilton was only able to qualify in P16 as he retired in the first qualifying round for the first time since the 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix. His disappointment was compounded by the fact that teammate George Russell qualified sixth.
The 37-year-old got off to a solid start early in the race and moved through the field in style on hard tires and found himself up to sixth place before bizarre circumstances derailed his comeback. Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso suffered engine problems and collapsed at the pit lane entrance, meaning Hamilton was unable to stop for new tyres.
When the virtual safety car ended, Hamilton eventually came in but dropped to 12th and only gained two places over the last nine laps. In the end he hobbled home and finished 10th, taking home a consolation point while Russell finished P5.
Post-race footage has emerged of Hamilton at Parc Ferme looking gutted after stepping out of his car. Crouching down with his hands on his knees, the superstar was visibly upset with his performance and finishing position.
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Hamilton expressed concern about the car after the race as his disappointment was evident. He said: “We are still very slow. It’s not just one solution, it’s multiple things.
“Right now we are not fighting for the top tier. We’re so far from the guys in front of us. We have a lot to do.
“I don’t feel like we’ve improved. All I know is that I couldn’t keep up with the Haas in the end.”
The one point for Hamilton puts him fifth in the drivers’ standings, already 29 points behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. However, Hamilton was defiant, adding: “I know I have a great team and we’re just going to keep our heads down and try to improve.”
The Australian Grand Prix will be absolutely crucial to Hamilton’s quest for the elusive eighth World Championship, which would put him off it Michael sSchumacher with the most in F1 history. Another underperformance will see the Briton slide down the table – and his title hopes could be further out of reach.
Meanwhile, Verstappen passed Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc late to win the race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Intelligently waiting not to overtake Leclerc before the DRS zone, the World Champion spectacularly overtook his rival to recover from his DNF in Bahrain last weekend.
Carlos Sainz secured P3 – his second consecutive podium after finishing behind teammate Leclerc last week – ahead of Sergio Perez. It was a heartbreaking turnaround for the Mexican after securing his first career pole position only to suffer the consequences of a pit stop in front of a safety car.
The 22-race 2022 campaign – which is expected to return to 23 races in the near future once a replacement for the Russian Grand Prix is found – will continue with the Australian Grand Prix on 10 April.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/formula-1/lewis-hamilton-mercedes-saudi-arabia-26577178 Lewis Hamilton looked demoralized after the mediocre Saudi Arabian Grand Prix