Lewis Hamilton makes alarming admission as Mercedes driver shuts down Horner and Sainz

Lewis Hamilton refuses to let 2021 season ‘define’ his career

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Lewis Hamilton has shut down claims from Red Bull chief Christian Horner and Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, who have accused Mercedes of holding back during pre-season testing. And Hamilton has alarmingly revealed that the Silver Arrows could be well off the pace when the new Formula One season gets underway.

Hamilton missed out on landing a record eighth championship last season after Max Verstappen stormed to victory on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December.

The season-decider ended in controversy after Verstappen was allowed to pull level with the Briton for a one-lap shootout following a safety car pause.

Hamilton will be seeking his revenge this time around as he endeavours to make the most of his second opportunity to move ahead of Michael Schumacher at the top of the all-time leaderboard.

But Mercedes have been far from convincing during the second round of pre-season testing in Bahrain.

And Hamilton admits he is concerned about how Mercedes will fare this year.

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“It feels very different now than last year,” Hamilton revealed. “I think we’re not that well-positioned.

“The challenges are much greater now. It can’t be solved in a week. I’m told we still have a lot of lap time to find.

“We still have a few problems to work through. We’re definitely not the fastest car at the moment.

F1 chiefs have made a whole host of regulation changes ahead of the new seasons and cars have been redesigned over the winter.

That means teams that had found themselves further down the pecking order in the past could suddenly have a chance of competing for race victories.

And Hamilton thinks Ferrari are positioned to do well, 14 years after they last won the Constructors’ Championship.

“Ferrari looks the best,” Hamilton added. “Red Bull is probably behind them, then we or McLaren. But we’re definitely not ahead.”

Pre-season testing is set to come to an end on Saturday as teams put the final touches in place ahead of the new season.

Two practice sessions for the first Grand Prix in Bahrain are then scheduled for Friday, with a third one set to follow on Saturday before qualifying takes place the same day.

And the 2022 season-opener will get underway on Sunday when the lights go out at the race on the Persian Gulf.

“The journey has been phenomenal,” Hamilton said ahead of the new season.

“Every individual works to the ultimate goal of winning a world championship, raising the bar and doing something nobody else has done before.”

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