Daily Mail

I don’t plan on going anywhere else, but…

Dejected Hamilton sends Mercedes coded warning


LEWIS HAMILTON told Mercedes they must respond to his ‘kick’ to sort out their mess — otherwise he might be off. That was the legendary driver’s coded warning as he dismissed his hopes of winning a record eighth world championsh­ip this season.

A dejected figure, who looked as if he was struggling for his mojo ahead of Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Hamilton also made cryptic comments suggesting he does not think that Formula One should be in the country.

Although he held back in his criticism of the regime, seemingly for reasons of F1- Saudi diplomacy, he was more thorough in examining the failures of his team, which leaves them behind runaway successes Red Bull, as well as Ferrari and Aston Martin.

‘I have 100 per cent belief in this team, it is my family, and I have been here a long time,’ he started positively, before adding, ‘I don’t plan on going anywhere else. But…’

He paused and went on: ‘We all need a kick, and we need to get on with things. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and we have seen where the performanc­e is and how others are extracting it.

‘We have to make some bold decisions and some big moves to close the gap. We are hopeful we can catch up, but it will be too late for the championsh­ip.’

At 38, time is not on Hamilton’s side. He is only contracted until the end of the season, and will surely assess Mercedes’ potential to challenge in the near future before recommitti­ng. Clearly, his desire is that they can turn their fortunes around, allowing him to stay.

He would rather sign off with the Silver Arrows in glory, after a decade of unmatched success, than go elsewhere. Yet, as he says, ‘but…’.

Ferrari, a team he once dreamed of driving for, and Aston Martin, a coming power based on their winter transforma­tion, would certainly both be intriguing counter-attraction­s.

Asked about his motivation, and whether it is as high as usual given the circumstan­ces, he said: ‘Hmm,’ before adding: ‘If you are not fighting for a world championsh­ip, despite preparing for it at the beginning of the season, you still try to prepare for the races in the same way with your mental and fitness approach.’

What he estimated as a gap to Red Bull of 1.5 seconds — relative light-years — has already led to cracks appearing. After the Bahrain race Hamilton complained the team had ‘ not listened’ to his advice to ditch their disastrous design long before boss Toto Wolff announced that they are now doing so. A full overhaul is taking place and a technical meeting to thrash out a way forward was held last week.

Of Saudi, Hamilton made some apparently critical comments, but asked to elaborate he declined, adding: ‘What I said is open to interpreta­tion.’

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, a crushing winner in Bahrain, arrives in Jeddah today after overcoming a stomach upset that put him out of yesterday’s media activity.

 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Check me out: Hamilton in an eye-catching outfit in the Jeddah paddock
GETTY IMAGES Check me out: Hamilton in an eye-catching outfit in the Jeddah paddock
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