Fast-forward two months and those words appear to have spectacularly backfired amid what has been a dreadful start to the season for Mercedes. 

Interestingly, Hamilton made a point of recalling that exchange on Saturday evening in Imola following a frustrating Emilia Romagna Grand Prix sprint race in which he could only finish 14th. 

Sunday’s main grand prix would go on to be even worse, with the seven-time world champion enduring a miserable run to 13th while teammate George Russell finished fourth and nearly a minute up the road. Adding insult to injury, Hamilton was lapped by race winner and former F1 title rival Max Verstappen

“In Barcelona testing the question was put to me: ‘What happens if you get it wrong?’ And I said: ‘We don’t do that, we don’t get things wrong, we’re world champions,’” Hamilton said. “But the fact is, with all the possibilities out there, we may have.”

It marked the first proper acknowledgement from Hamilton that his once-dominant Mercedes team is having to now face up to a harsh new reality. It was also unprovoked, highlighting that it was clearly something he wanted to address and get off his chest. 

Despite the new low Hamilton currently finds himself in, he remains determined to help Mercedes turn things around and has vehemently rejected the suggestion he could quit F1 after a dismal start to the year. 

“What we’ll continue to do is just keep our heads down, keep working,” he added. “If one person is down, we rely on our team mates to lift each other up. 

“We’re nowhere near where we want to be, but we’ll just keep fighting and keep working as hard as we can and hope that eventually we see light in the tunnel.” 

Mercedes’ innovative W13 challenger is yet to deliver the kind of performance the team had been expecting and has been hampered by severe porpoising - a high-frequency bouncing phenomenon - that has left the Brackley-based outfit puzzled.

This was supposed to be the car that would enable Hamilton to fight for a record-breaking eighth world title and strike back from the disappointment of the controversial conclusion to the 2021 championship. 

Instead, Hamilton finds himself only seventh in the championship and is already trailing Charles Leclerc by 58 points in what has been his worst start to an F1 season since 2009. As such, he has already written off his chances of competing for this year’s world title.

“I know there are a lot of points available, and theoretically, yes it’s still possible. But one has to be realistic and the problems we have are not small,” Hamilton conceded. 

“These guys [Ferrari and Red Bull] are seconds, over a second ahead as a worst case scenario. We don’t currently have anything coming to fix it for the next race, we don’t have a solution just yet. 

“Even to design something if we do find what the solution is and we have to change it, the team will work as hard as they can, but things could take months in design and getting those things built. 

"So, I think we keep our heads down, we remain hopeful, we continue to chase. But I have to keep an eye on the realistic position we’re in. We’ve just got to work hard to make sure that we’re not in this position next year.” 

Where do Mercedes go from here in F1 2022? 

Mercedes is yet to bring a major upgrade to its W13 car, which has spent the early part of 2022 almost a full second off the pace. 

The German manufacturer is not rushing through developments, in part because F1’s new budget cap no longer allows teams to throw their endless financial might at improving their cars, but also to ensure it maximises the timeframe to properly understand the issues it is facing. 

While there is no immediate fix, Mercedes has been forced to raise the ride height of its cars in order to limit the bouncing, though in doing so it is haemorrhaging downforce and lap time. 

"We very much believe that the signs we're putting in at the moment will help us to in effect run the car lower, where we believe we have all the aerodynamic goodness,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff explained. 

“But we haven't been able to unlock it because of the bottoming out of the car. If we are able to finally get on top of that, that means there is quite some lap time we can find. If not, we need to have another idea.”

Mercedes is aiming to bring new parts, including the expected arrival of a lower-drag rear wing, to the next race in Miami in a bid to ease the issues it is facing with its car. 

It is hoped the updates will enable the team to run its cars lower and finally extract the W13’s true potential. But trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin warned the team is "not expecting to solve this overnight". 

"A lot of the work that is going on in [the factory in] Brackley has been to understand the phenomenon and whether we can actually control it, whether we can engineer it out of the car,” Shovlin said. 

"Is there an aerodynamic solution that we can apply to the car that will make this problem go away?

"Now, being realistic we think this will be something we approach in steps rather than one big moment where the whole thing vanishes.

"But we are seeing encouraging signs. As I said, we are hoping to bring parts to the car soon, maybe even Miami where we can hopefully see progress on this issue."