Lewis Hamilton doubts that Mercedes will be able to make a significant improvement in terms of pace at next weekend's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, after qualifying only fifth and ninth for the season opener.
Hamilton found his way onto the podium during the final laps of Sunday evening's curtain-raiser in Bahrain as he made the most of a double DNF for rivals Red Bull.
However, it was clear to see that Mercedes had only the third-fastest package throughout the weekend, with both Ferrari and Red Bull able to get ahead and stay ahead.
Mercedes reliable, but Ferrari and Red Bull "much faster"
Asked what he learned by completing a race distance at the Bahrain International Circuit, Hamilton pointed to Ferrari and Red Bull having a clear pace advantage.
Hamilton and teammate George Russell were more than half a minute adrift of leader - and eventual winner - Charles Leclerc before a late Safety Car wiped out the advantage and brought the Silver Arrows back into contention.
"We've got a reliable car, and they're much faster, but we kind of knew that already," said Hamilton, speaking to select members of the media, including RacingNews365.com.
"The car was very hard to drive, but it could always be worse."
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Hamilton expects a tough weekend in Saudi Arabia
When asked if he expects Mercedes to fare any better at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Hamilton continued: "No, I don't think so. But we, of course, have learned a lot from this week."
The upcoming race in Saudi Arabia will offer Mercedes a test that the team fear will not suit their car, at a street track reliant on top-end speed.
"[Ferrari's] straight-line speed - as well as [Red] Bull's - is very quick, and their performance through the corners is quite a bit different to ours," he went on to comment.
"I'm hoping for the next race that we do manage to find some improvements, but it's a fundamental issue that is going to take a little bit longer, I think, to fix."
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