Saudi Arabian GP: Lewis Hamilton says Red Bull faster than Mercedes have ever been
Lewis Hamilton was left frustrated as Mercedes remained off the pace of Red Bull at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix; Sergio Perez led a one-two from Max Verstappen as Hamilton finished fifth behind team-mate George Russell
Last Updated: 20/03/23 6:03am
Max Verstappen breezes past Lewis Hamilton to take P8 at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton says Red Bull’s 2023 advantage over the rest of the Formula 1 field is greater than anything Mercedes managed during their streak of eight successive constructors’ championships.
Hamilton finished fifth in Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as Mercedes remained well off the pace of Red Bull, who secured a second one-two in as many races this season.
Sergio Perez won from pole position in Jeddah, but reigning world champion Max Verstappen’s effortless advance through the field from 15th on the grid – following a technical failure in Qualifying – provided further evidence of Red Bull’s stunning pace.
“I have definitely never seen a car so fast,” said Hamilton, who claimed six of his seven world championships during Mercedes streak of constructors’ titles between 2014 and 2021.
“When we were fast, we were not that fast. It is the fastest car I have seen, especially compared to the rest.
Highlights of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
“I don’t know how, but he [Verstappen] came past me with some serious speed and I didn’t even bother to block him because there was a massive speed difference.
“Everyone wants to see a close battle, but it is the way it is. It is not my problem, it is not my fault.”
Hamilton cut a despondent figure after qualifying more than three tenths – and four places – behind his team-mate George Russell, but was able to gain two places in the race to finish directly behind the other Mercedes and in front of both Ferraris.
While Hamilton said there were “positives” to take from his Sunday, the 38-year-old remained frustrated by his team’s deficit to Red Bull and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, who took the final spot on the podium for a second successive race.
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell acknowledged Red Bull are the clear frontrunners after finishing fifth and third respectively.
“(We are) still a long, long way off Red Bull,” Hamilton said. “(It’s) definitely strange to see that Ferrari are behind us and it’s positive for us.
“It’s a different surface here and we don’t really understand why on this surface our car works one way and different on another.
“It will be up and down through the first three races. Hopefully we can get some upgrades ASAP and try to close that gap to the Astons.”
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was pleased enough to finish second after starting in 15th at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Hamilton, who finished behind Russell last season in his younger team-mate’s first year with Mercedes, suggested his deficit in Saudi Arabia was caused by a “50-50” set up choice that went against him.
“The strategy didn’t really work out for me, the set up was a little bit off – if I had the set up George had, I would have been in a better position,” Hamilton said.
“There was a 50-50 choice, I chose one way and he chose the other, and more often than not, the way he went was the wrong one but it just happened to work.
“I could only match his pace rather than be quicker this weekend, but I’ll work hard to make sure we’re in a better position next time.”