Lewis Hamilton admits that he now "truly believes" that Mercedes can win a race in 2022 following their recent signs of progress.
The Silver Arrows endured a difficult start to the campaign, leading Toto Wolff to rule out their title prospects when the team boss told German outlet Speedweek in June: "That train left the station a long time ago."
Similarly, Hamilton is honest about the fact that he doubted whether the team could secure a victory during their particularly tough weekends earlier in the year.
"Earlier this year, [I] definitely wasn't sure we'd ever get a win in this car," Hamilton told media, including RacingNews365.com, over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend.
"Obviously, that's not the way we like to think, but it was feeling like, 'Jesus, it's a long, long way to catch everyone up, knowing the progress everyone makes'."
Hamilton encouraged by signs of progress
In light of signs of improvement for Mercedes at recent races, Hamilton is feeling much more positive about the team's prospects.
"[It's] definitely [been] hugely encouraging," the seven-time World Champion acknowledged.
"Particularly [because] for a long, long time, we would make changes and not see it do what [we thought] it was going to do or improve the car.
"It was a good step in Barcelona, but then we had several difficult races following it.
"Then we just had these last [few] races which were quite strong, and that's really encouraged us that we're moving in the right direction, that there really is potential in the car."
As such, Hamilton hopes that the next step will be reaching the top step of the podium.
"With a little bit more digging, a little bit more hard work, hopefully we can get a bit closer to having a chance of winning a race," he added.
"So I truly believe we can get a race win this year."
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Recent chances of a win needed "everything to align"
Hamilton looked to potentially be in contention for a victory at the British Grand Prix, but eventually finished the race in third, while Carlos Sainz claimed his debut win in F1.
The Briton admits that the car's current performance alone would not have been enough to secure the win, and that other events would have had to have gone in their favour.
"[At] Silverstone, there was definitely potential to win the race," Hamilton explained.
"But with our current performance, we're not on exactly the same levels as the two teams ahead.
"We needed everything to align, so we didn't need that Safety Car at the end. We needed not to have lost the time in the pit-stop.
"In a perfect world, if we didn't have the crash at the beginning, I would have been third.
"I feel like things happen for a reason. I think it was Carlos' weekend. It was written that he would get his first win there, which I'm really happy for him."
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