Mercedes endured a difficult second pre-season test in Bahrain with the drivers struggling to extract consistent pace, while the team’s 2022 challenger also appears to be suffering from more extreme porpoising compared to its main rivals. 

The struggles prompted Hamilton to claim that Mercedes is not currently in a position to compete for wins as pre-season testing ended in Bahrain. 

Speaking at the delayed Expo 2020 Dubai event, Hamilton reiterated that his team is on the back foot and warned that it could take at least four races for Mercedes to properly understand its new car. 

“The testing has been difficult,” Hamilton admitted. “When we go into this race we will still be learning about this car, we probably will be for the first four races at least. 

“We’ve got some problems, everyone is bouncing up and down.” 

The seven-time world champion revealed a number of video meetings are taking place this week to help ensure that the team is in the best place possible for this weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

“The test was tough, but the great thing is, right now after this I have a conference call with all the guys in Brixworth [Mercedes High Performance Powertrains’ HQ in the UK], talking about the engine, the driveability, about how we can get more power out for this week,” he explained. 

“Then I have another conference call with all the engineers up in Brackley [Mercedes’ factory], just how we can push this car forward, how we can stop it from jumping, how we can extract all the performance from it. 

“So everyone’s hyped, everyone’s excited. And these engineers, they love the challenge. So it’s good.”

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen ended the Bahrain test fastest for Red Bull, who Hamilton highlighted as the early favourites along with Ferrari. 

“There were a lot of cars that were looking quite fast,” he said. 

“The Alfa Romeo was looking fast, Valtteri [Bottas] was looking quick. Obviously the Red Bull looks ridiculously fast at the moment, and the Ferraris.

“But we are the best team. Undoubtedly.”