Following a disappointing season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton expressed his frustration about Mercedes’ lack of improvement over the winter.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live after the race: "Last year, there were things I told them. I said the issues that are with the car. I've driven so many cars in my life, so I know what a car needs. I know what a car doesn't need. I think it's really about accountability.”

Can Red Bull win every race this season?

It was rare criticism from Hamilton towards Mercedes after maintaining a very positive stance during their difficult 2022 campaign. 

Ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Hamilton was asked about his comments in the FIA press conference.

The seven-time champion reiterated his “100 percent belief” in Mercedes.

“In hindsight, it wasn’t the best choice of words," he said. "There are times when you are not in agreement with certain team members. We continue to communicate, pull together. 

“I still have 100% belief in this team. This is my family, I don’t plan on going anywhere else, but we all need a kick. The proof is in the pudding, we have seen where people are extracting performances. 

“We need to make bold decisions and big moves to close the gap or these guys will run away with it - they will this year, unless Ferrari stop them. We are hopeful of closing the gap but, at that point, it will be too late to fight for the championship. But we can still turn some heads, hopefully.”

Hamilton made a startling claim that Red Bull were 1.5s quicker than Mercedes in Bahrain.

“It’s not on the straights,” Hamilton said when asked about Mercedes’ deficit to Red Bull. “Last year we were draggy, we had to take a bigger wing. But this year it’s mostly through the corner, because on the straights we are quick. 

“On the exits the Red Bulls have a lot of rear end through the corners. In the race, they weren’t pushing. They are quicker than they seemed. They were 1.5s quicker per lap.”