Hamilton worried Mercedes lacks speed heading into F1 opener

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Lewis Hamilton believes fans will be in for an unusual surprise when the Formula One season starts next weekend and he begins his quest to wrestle back the title he agonisingly lost to Max Verstappen on the last lap of the final race.

AP

​Doubts

Hamilton is a seven-time F1 champion — six of them with Mercedes — but he has doubts over whether the W13 car is quick enough to win the first race in Bahrain, and maybe even several races after that.

“I think people will be surprised. It’s a bit different this year,” the 37-year-old British driver said.

Reuters

​No mind games

“At the moment I don’t think we’ll be competing for wins.”

Hamilton insists this is not bluff or mind games, or that Mercedes is talking itself down deliberately while secretly holding something back to unleash on its rivals next Sunday in Sakhir.

Reuters

​Hurdles to overcome

“We have far bigger challenges this time and they’re not one-week turnarounds, I think it will take a little bit longer. From what I’ve been told we have a considerable amount of pace to find,” a downbeat-sounding Hamilton said as preseason testing left F1’s powerhouse team with more questions than answers.

“We have some hurdles to overcome, and obviously next week we’ll get a much better showing of our pace.”

Reuters

​Breaking the streak

That’s not the usual fighting talk from Hamilton, F1’s record holder with 103 wins and 103 poles. He was within minutes of being F1’s most successful driver ever with eight titles, until Verstappen’s controversial victory in Abu Dhabi shredded that dream in seconds.

That was also the last race of a two-team era, dominated by Hamilton and Mercedes after Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel had enjoyed four years of joy.

Getty Images

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