JEDDAH, March 17 — Lewis Hamilton said on Thursday that he has no intention of leaving struggling Mercedes but admitted his choice of words had created unnecessary problems for the team in the aftermath of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the seven-time champion explained that he was not seeking a move to another team and was fully committed to staying with the former dominant champions.
“In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best choice of words,” said Hamilton, referring to his complaint that the team had not listened to him when reviewing their performance and car last year, when they won only one race.
“But no…There are, of course, times where you are not in agreement with certain team members, but what’s important is that we continue to communicate, we continue to pull together.
“I still have 100 per cent belief in this team. It is my family and I have been here a long time, so I don’t plan on going anywhere else.
“But we all need a kick. We all need to get on. And the proof is in the pudding.
“We have seen where the performance is and how people are extracting the performance and we have got to now start making some bold decisions, some big moves, in order to close the gap to these guys.”
Red Bull cruised to a crushing one-two victory with world champion Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in Bahrain where 41-year-old two-time champion Fernando Alonso marked his debut for the Mercedes-powered customer team, Aston Martin, by finishing a charging third.
“They [Red Bull] will run away with it most likely this year unless Ferrari stops them,” said Hamilton. “At some point during this year, we are hopeful we can close the gap — but by that point, it will probably be too late to fight for a championship.”
Hamilton finished a distant fifth in Bahrain and last year completed the first season of his career without winning a race.
His disappointment and post-race comments led to claims that he was set to seek a move elsewhere in pursuit of a record eighth title. — AFP