Hamilton makes ‘obvious’ claim over Mercedes’ title chances after Imola disaster

Lewis Hamilton has issued a rather frank verdict on Mercedes' chances of fighting for this season's Formula One title, stating that his side 'obviously' are not in the race.

The British driver endured a frustrating qualifying session on Friday at Imola, with both Mercedes exiting at Q2, and was unable to work his way through the field in Saturday's Sprint – leading to what is likely to be another difficult race.

Hamilton will start just 14th on the grid for Sunday's session, with teammate George Russell in 12th, with the performances in recent days once again highlighting just how far behind Ferrari and Red Bull the German manufacturer find themselves this season.

While it's still the early rounds of the season, with the race at Imola being the fourth on the calendar for 2022, the seven-time world champion has made it clear he's not in the running for what would be a record-breaking eighth title this season.

“Ultimately, we haven't got it right this year but everyone is working as hard as they can to correct it. This is the situation that we are faced with but everyone has their heads down and everyone is working as hard as they can," he told Sky Sports. "We're obviously not fighting for this championship but we're fighting to understand the car and progress through the year."

Hamilton's 14th-placed start on the grid is his second outside the top 10 already this season, following on from a 15th-placed start in Saudi Arabia, which is a remarkable position for the team that has dominated Formula One for much of the past decade.

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While Hamilton was dramatically pipped to the Driver's Championship by Max Verstappen last season, Mercedes did manage to retain their crown in the Constructor's Championship – their eighth triumph in a row.

Results in the Sprint saw Mercedes slip to third in the standings this season, four points behind fierce rivals Red Bull, and they're already a long way off runaway leaders Ferrari – who have broken the 100 point mark already.

Ferrari have not won the Constructor's Championship since 2008 and the famous Italian side are also chasing what will only be their second Driver's Championship since 2005, with Charles Leclerc currently leading teammate Carlos Sainz in the standings.

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