Hamilton has no plans to leave but says Mercedes need 'bold decisions'

By Sports Desk March 16, 2023

Lewis Hamilton has no desire to leave Mercedes but urged the team to make "bold decisions" to close the gap upon their Formula One rivals.  

Having won the Constructors' Championship for eight consecutive seasons from 2014, Mercedes conceded their crown to Red Bull last year.

Hopes of reclaiming that honour in 2023 already seem to be dead in the water after just one race, with Mercedes adrift of Red Bull and Ferrari, while also falling behind Aston Martin.

Those disappointments have led to speculation regarding Hamilton's future, with his contract due to expire at the end of the season, and post-race comments in Bahrain added fuel to the fire – having told Mercedes to "own up" to their mistakes.

Hamilton has since admitted his words were not chosen wisely and, speaking ahead of Sunday's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, he expressed his commitment to Mercedes.

"In hindsight, it wasn't necessarily the best choice of words. Of course there are times when you're not in agreement with certain team members but what's important is we continue to communicate, we continue to work together," he told a press conference.

"I still have 100 per cent belief in this team. It is my family and I've been here a long time, so I don't plan on going anywhere else.

"But we all need a kick, we all need to get in. The proof is in the pudding; we've seen what the performance is and how people are extracting the performance. We've got to now start making some bold decisions, some big moves in order to close the gap to these guys.

"[Red Bull] will run away with it, most likely, this year, unless Ferrari can stop them, which we'll wait and see. But as I said, we're hopeful we'll be able to close the gap, but at that point it will probably be too late in terms of fighting for a championship, but we can still turn some heads."

Hamilton likened Mercedes' position to the one they found themselves in last year and, having seen the team improve slowly throughout that campaign, is optimistic of a similar response.

"We're in a similar mentality to what we were last year, where we're just working as hard as we can as a team, try to remain positive. Obviously it's a shock when you work out the car is not where you want it to be," he added.

"But everyone is working on the solution and I have 100 per cent confidence in everyone doing their job. You don't all of a sudden lose the ability to build great cars. We're just not where we need to be, where we want to be, and we have to keep working on it.

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    Lewis Hamilton collided with Mercedes team-mate George Russell as Max Verstappen raced to pole position for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

    Hamilton will start fifth following a bizarre coming together with Russell, who lines up in 12th, at the end of Q2 at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.

    Verstappen finished four tenths clear of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, with Lando Norris an impressive third for McLaren.

    Pierre Gasly took fourth spot for Alpine, one place ahead of Hamilton, who was half-a-second back, with home favourite Fernando Alonso only ninth in his Aston Martin.

    Hamilton had to take on a replacement front wing for Q3 after he made contact with Russell in the closing stages of Q2.

    With both Mercedes men starting their hot laps, Hamilton moved out of Russell’s tow at 210mph on the main straight.

    But the seven-time world champion was forced to take to the grass after his team-mate, who was making his way past Sainz’s Ferrari, unintentionally, closed the door on him.

    Hamilton kicked up dirt from the grass as part of his front wing flew off his Mercedes.

    “George just backed off,” said Hamilton over the radio. “That is really dangerous. I might have some damage on the car.”

    Although Hamilton’s time was good enough to progress to Q3, Russell was eliminated in 12th.

    “You didn’t tell me there was a car behind,” said Russell. “I don’t know what the hell was going on in this session. The car was bouncing. I couldn’t get my tyres working.

    Russell will start one place behind Perez after the Red Bull driver also failed to make it out of Q2.

    Perez is Verstappen’s closest challenger in the championship but a week on from his horror show in Monaco where he finished 16th and two laps down, he qualified only 11th here.

    The Mexican ran through the gravel and, although he managed to keep his Red Bull out of the wall, his next lap was not quick enough to carry him through to Q3.

    “Unbelievable,” said Perez.

    On an afternoon of shock results, Charles Leclerc, who started this race from pole position last year, will line last but one on the grid.

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    Q1 was suspended by nine minutes following multiple spins on a track drying out after earlier rain.

    Alex Albon, Nyck de Vries, Yuki Tsunoda and Valtteri Bottas all ran off the road, and with gravel on the asphalt, race director Niels Wittich red-flagged the session.

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    Verstappen completed his speediest time in the early minutes before it started drizzling at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.

    The double world champion finished two tenths clear of Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull, with Lewis Hamilton third, four tenths back.

    Hamilton completed only eight laps as he elected not to run in the slippery conditions, despite the chance qualifying – which takes place at 4pm local time (3pm BST) – could also be disrupted by showers.

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    The one-hour running was suspended for nine minutes after Logan Sargeant crashed out.

    Sargeant lost control of his Williams through the high-speed final corner, before sliding into the gravel and grazing the wall.

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    Four officials from a rotating pool steward every Grand Prix and at least one of those will be a former driver who has raced at a competitive level.

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    “There is no consistency. We need to step it up.”

    Hulkenberg was penalised following an aggressive overtake on Logan Sargeant on the first lap in Monte Carlo.

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