F1

Lewis Hamilton warned Mercedes are ‘two steps away’ from Red Bull and Ferrari

Former world champion Juan Pablo Montoya has warned that Mercedes are 'two steps away' from title-chasing duo Red Bull and Ferrari this season, with Lewis Hamilton's chances of an eighth world title slim.

The seven-time Formula One champion has endured a woeful start to the 2022 season and finished outside the points last time out at Imola, leading him to concede that he was already out of the title picture.

However, despite Hamilton's struggles in the Mercedes car, new teammate George Russell has managed to find consistency and has secured a top-five finish in each of his four races with the Silver Arrows this season.

Mercedes will hope that new upgrades, due to be utilised at the Miami Grand Prix this weekend, will help to close the gap on the leaders but Montoya has offered a grim assessment by stating they're well off the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari.

"Personally speaking, I think Mercedes is two steps away from them. They have the people, the resources, everything. The problem of figuring it out is that they thought they figured it out in the wind tunnel and put it on the track," he told VegasInsider.

"The wind tunnel runs till 250 km/hr, or a scale of 250, and the problem starts close to 300. And they cannot simulate that. So, they think they fixed it and they think they never had an issue. It's difficult. Probably a lot of analysts, a lot of engineers back in the shed, they're pulling their hair out and trying to figure it out.

"That's where I think Toto (Wolff) is very strong. They have a really good group of people together and it's a big group of people and Toto has managed them. Adrian (Newey) goes 'this is the direction of the car' and everyone works on that area. When you have four people (like Mercedes do) and you can actually make them work together, I think that's unbelievable and that's why Mercedes has been so good. And that's Toto behind the wall doing that."

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While Mercedes will have hopes of a revival this season, Montoya added that he thinks the German manufacturers will also find themselves behind McLaren in the running this season – with the team receiving a boost after Lando Norris' podium at Imola.

"McLaren is one of those teams, when you look at it, that are just in the gap that if they do a big enough step with the car, they could be right there winning. It looks more likely that a McLaren runs with Ferrari and Red Bull, than Mercedes, right now.

"If Mercedes did a step, then Mercedes will run closer to the McLaren and if McLaren makes a step, then it will run closer to a Red Bull and Ferrari."

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