Mercedes now second or third quickest confesses Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton reckons Mercedes are no longer the quickest team and could have even dropped to third behind Ferrari and Red Bull, following a difficult Chinese Grand Prix weekend.
Mercedes were easily outqualified by Ferrari on Saturday before Sebastian Vettel romped off into the lead. A clever strategy to undercut Vettel put Valtteri Bottas into the lead for Mercedes before a mid-race Safety Car shuffled the order, with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo coming through from sixth to take the victory.
Bottas meanwhile finished second with Hamilton down in fourth as he was powerless to keep those on fresher tyres behind.
Speaking after the race, the Briton confessed Mercedes had lost their speed this weekend, but is confident things will change and is pushing his team to find answers.
"It's clear from this weekend we are not the quickest," said Hamilton. "We’ve lost performance since Melbourne and maybe more so this weekend.
"So we are the second or third fastest team at the moment. We’ve got some improving to do, but that’s not impossible.
"I think what this team has shown over the years is we’re great at staying united and continuing to keep working. Everyone here and back at the factory is just going to keep working as hard as possible. We’ve got a lot of information over the last couple of weeks.
"I certainly also am pushing very hard James Vowles and James Allison, Niki [Lauda] and Toto [Wolff], trying to encourage them so they know which areas of the car we’re struggling the most with so they can really apply pressure in those departments and make sure we’ve got more developments coming. Got to keep constructive pressure on the guys. But they’re already pressured, they want to win just as much as all of us."
Mercedes' third straight defeat marks their longest period without a race win since the hybrid era began in 2014 and Hamilton is therefore expecting a harder fight than ever.
"Who knows what the season holds," he added. "If it continues the way it is it’s going to be very tough to win. But if there is an opportunity, we were to finish on top, it would mean even more, because it’s an even tougher season than before."