Lewis Hamilton says he will take a "more aggressive" approach when racing Max Verstappen in 2022, but that his current priority is to tame Mercedes' new F1 car.
Hamilton explained after last week's Bahrain test that there would be plenty of homework ahead for himself and Mercedes, after the team suffered from several issues - including prominent porpoising - across the pre-season.
"As a team, it was relatively smooth, [but] it wasn't smooth for me; for any of us drivers, it wasn't necessarily smooth out there," Hamilton told media, including RacingNews365.com, as he reflected on Mercedes' preparations.
"It was obviously a surprise, I think, for us as a sport to see the new changes of the cars, and the effects of the changes."
He added: "We're discovering bit by bit the limitations of our car and know that we have a lot of work to do."
Hamilton not expecting big gains from Mercedes
Nonetheless, Hamilton played down expectations of Mercedes finding a silver bullet between the final pre-season test and the opening race.
"I don't expect that we've made a huge amount of progress," he went on to comment.
"The car naturally was fresher, as you come into a test – you have a new engine, you have new components, but it is still the car from last week.
"We obviously have learned a lot from the week of testing here.
"I hope that we have taken some sort of step forward, through that understanding of where we position the car, but we will find out."
Viewed by others:
Hamilton vows to be "more aggressive" in 2022
Earlier on Friday, 2021 World Champion Max Verstappen poked fun at Mercedes and Hamilton by joking that they will be "dead last" with their "awful car".
Verstappen's remarks came in the wake of Mercedes' downbeat comments about their pre-season form, with Hamilton ruling out victories early in the campaign.
However, if they do meet each other on track again this season, Hamilton has vowed to change his approach in wheel-to-wheel combat.
"I will be a more aggressive driver this year," he made clear, after several flashpoints in 2021.
Hamilton stressed, though, that he is not taking any negative energy into the new season, after the way in which the 2021 title battle was settled in Abu Dhabi.
"I don't hold any grudges. I don't have any baggage coming into this season," Hamilton said.
"I think it is important to let go. All I can do is try to shape what's up ahead of me and I know I can't change the past."
F1 Podcast: Previewing the 2022 Formula 1 season
Ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour and Thomas Maher preview the 2022 season.