Toto Wolff Makes Alarming Lewis Hamilton Title Admission Just One Race Into The Season

Toto Wolff Makes Alarming Lewis Hamilton Title Admission Just One Race Into The Season

Lewis Hamilton managed a third placed finish at the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix, despite his new Mercedes W13 car struggling for pace throughout the weekend

Toto Wolff has labelled Lewis Hamilton a “long shot” to win a record-breaking eighth world F1 title in 2022.

The new campaign represents a seismic one in the history of the sport, with brand new technical regulations being introduced. The regulations, designed to make racing more competitive, have left all teams needing to make major adaptations to their cars.

And Mercedes, constructors’ champions for the past eight seasons, have struggled to get to the grips with things. Both Hamilton and George Russell were underwhelming in both rounds of pre-season testing, and seemingly carried the difficulties into Bahrain last weekend.

Hamilton could only qualify a fifth, a position that seemed set to be his final race one before benefiting from late drama. After both Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were forced to retire, the British icon came through to take third, behind Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

New team-mate Russell was fourth, but despite their good fortune, there was no masking the fact the pairing’s W13 cars were way off the pace set by the Scuderia. And it appears very unlikely there will be time to bridge the gap ahead of the second race in Saudi Arabia this weekend.

And Wolff, 50, believes Hamilton cannot be considered a title contender as things stand. That’s despite the F1 icon recently stating his intention to bury the controversy of last season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by triumphing in this campaign.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates after finishing third at the Bahrain Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton celebrates after finishing third at the Bahrain Grand Prix

“If we look at the pecking order today, it seems a very long shot even to think about being in contention for the drivers’ or constructors’ championships,” Wolff said, as per Daily Mail .

“We probably scored the maximum points we could have on Sunday, and we need to take it from there. Every weekend counts.” Wolff finished by conceding his team were currently inferior to Ferrari and Red Bull.

“But at the moment we have to be realistic, and when you are third on the road, you cannot think about winning titles.,” he added. The Austrian had previously said the team would be taking ‘a chainsaw’ to Hamilton’s car to tackle the problems.

In the meantime, it’s Ferrari who have emerged as genuine title contenders. Both Leclerc and Sainz backed up their pre-season testing displays by securing a first one-two finish for the team since 2019.

Winner Leclerc held off Verstappen in an epic duel before the Dutchman suffered suspected fuel pump problems, while Sainz moved up a place having been third when the world champion retired. Team principal Mattia Binotto though, has sounded caution despite the early success.

He claimed after the race the team still had ample work to do. “There is still potential in the car certainly, but we do need to develop the car,” he told reporters.

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