LONDON (BBC): Lewis Hamilton says “it could take a long time” before Mercedes can compete again with Red Bull.
Mercedes have started a process of redesigning their car having started a second consecutive season off the pace. But the seven-time champion said: “It is going to take us the rest of the year to potentially close that gap.”
His team-mate George Russell added: “I am not going to say we are terribly optimistic. We recognise Red Bull are a second down the road at the moment.”
Red Bull have dominated the start of the season, taking two one-two finishes in the first two races, and are clear favourites again at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
Briton Hamilton said: “If you look at the Red Bull, it is just going to continue to evolve most likely.
“Some cars do plateau in terms of performance. At some point it can’t just keep going. But maybe it can.
“They have a great team around them and I am sure they will continue to add downforce. “We just have to make sure when we do make the change hopefully the drop isn’t too far and hopefully it is going to take us the rest of the year for sure to potentially close that gap.” Hamilton opened up on his struggles with the Mercedes car and how he feels uncomfortable with the positioning of the cockpit. He said: “I don’t know if people know, but we sit closer to the front wheels than all the other drivers. Our cockpit is too close to the front.
“When you’re driving, you feel like you’re sitting on the front wheels, which is one of the worst feelings to feel when you’re driving a car. “If you were driving your car at home and you pulled the wheels right underneath your legs, you would not be happy when you’re approaching the roundabout.
“What that does is it really changes the attitude of the car and how you perceive its movement. And it makes it harder to predict compared to when you’re further back and sitting more centred. It is just something I have really struggled with.”
The 38-year-old also expanded on comments he made after the first race of the season in which he said the engineers “didn’t listen” to him with regard to the design of this year’s car.
“I listened to the team and that was the direction they said we should go,” he said. “Had I known the feeling I would have in it, it wouldn’t have happened.