Lewis Hamilton has expressed disappointment with his Mercedes’ upgrade, saying the changes were “definitely not the step forward” they were hoping for ahead of the Spanish grand prix.
The 38-year-old finished 39 seconds behind Max Verstappen in Monaco as the Dutchman extended his championship lead over team-mate Sergio Perez to 39 points.
Verstappen now says his team, which has dominated the sport since a rule review at the start of last season, has the pace to win all 22 races.
Hamilton, meanwhile, has warned he hopes he can provide much-needed competition. He had said after last month’s Miami Grand Prix that he was “counting down the days” for the upgrade to propel him back to the front.
But after first seeing Mercedes’ updated machine at the Monaco Grand Prix last weekend, he said: “It’s definitely not the step forward we were hoping for. The real step forward we were hoping for was [overturn] a delta of one second [to RedBull] in race trim, and we haven’t covered that in this step.
The seven-time world champion qualified sixth in Monte Carlo before making up two places in the rain-ravaged race. Teammate George Russell finished fifth, while Verstappen raced to his fourth win of the season.
Hamilton said: “Obviously if you bring upgrades you should move forward, and the fact is it’s an improvement, but not the one we dreamed of.”
Monte Carlo’s layout was one of Mercedes’ worst circuits and Sunday’s race at the Circuit de Catalunya on the outskirts of Barcelona will better reflect the team’s outright pace.
“It’s step by step,” said Hamilton. “I’m not negative about it, I’m thankful we have it, and I understand the amount of work that went into making these parts, the rush that came about and the amount of hard work from the team. We’re extremely hungry to move in the right direction, so I’d say I’m hopeful it puts us on a better track.
“We’ve taken into account where we are, where we went wrong, and now we’re slowly chipping away and navigating our way back to the front, but unfortunately it’s just a long process.”
Red Bull has won 16 of the past 17 Grands Prix, with Verstappen firmly on track to secure his third world title in as many years. Asked if the team would now win every race of the championship, he said: “I would say at this point we can. But that is very unlikely.
“Things always go wrong, a pension or whatever. But purely on pace at the moment we can. We have always seen dominant periods in Formula 1 and this is nothing new. If we look back to the 1980s, the 1990s, the 2000s, early 2010s all the way up to 2020, that’s pure domination by certain teams.
“The longer you leave the rules the same, the closer people will become. So maybe this is something we should look at.”
Fernando Alonso is the most likely challenge to Red Bull’s stranglehold at his home grand prix this weekend.
He said F1 was “very easy from the bench” when responding to claims Aston Martin could have won in Monaco last weekend.
Alonso said fitting intermediate tires instead of slicks at a pit stop could “maybe” have given him victory, but added: “What I don’t like in F1 is that we always see the downsides.
“We never put enough value on the right things that the teams do in very stressful moments. We always see a team that does it wrong and then we go hard against it.”