Lewis Hamilton has admitted that neither he nor Mercedes are likely to be joining in the fight for Formula 1's championships this year, as the team endure a horrible weekend at Imola.
Coming to the Italian venue with Mercedes second in the Constructors' Championship, both cars were knocked out in Q2 in Friday qualifying.
In Saturday's Sprint race, neither Hamilton nor George Russell were able to climb into the top 10 as they remained mired in the midfield battle.
Russell crossed the line in 11th, with Hamilton coming home in 14th – Russell being 36 seconds away from the lead after just 17 laps of racing due to an early Safety Car.
Faced with starting the Grand Prix from well outside the points places, Hamilton conceded there's little chance of a title fight being possible.
"A lot of work is going on in the background, but it is what it is," he told Sky Sports F1.
"It's what we have and, ultimately, we haven't got it right this year, but everyone's working as hard as they can to correct it."
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Mercedes "not fighting" for the championship
Asked how he and team boss Toto Wolff are handling the disappointment of their bad start, due to it being the first time since either joined Mercedes that the car hasn't been up to task, Hamilton said there has been adversity before.
"The team have been through many, many bad years," he commented.
"A lot of the people, most of the people that I'm working with, have been with this team 20 years.
"It wasn't the greatest of years in 2013, but we've had great years since then.
"We stick together, we try to motivate
everyone, and this is the situation that we are faced with. But
everyone's got their heads down and everyone's working as hard as they can.
"We're obviously not fighting for this championship, but we're fighting to understand the car and improve and progress through the year."
As for what positives Mercedes are taking from their poor Saturday at the track, Hamilton summed up: "We've got data."
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