Hamilton: Mercedes need entire F1 season to close gap on Red Bull
Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes will require the rest of the Formula One campaign to get into a position where they can challenge early pacesetters Red Bull.
Red Bull have started the 2023 season with back-to-back one-twos, with Max Verstappen triumphing at the Bahrain Grand Prix and Sergio Perez winning in Saudi Arabia last time out.
Mercedes, meanwhile, sit third in the constructors' championship having started a second consecutive year off the pace, with Hamilton posting successive fifth-place finishes.
Speaking ahead of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton was pessimistic about his team's chances of matching Red Bull in the short term.
"It is going to take us the rest of the year to potentially close that gap," the seven-time world champion said.
"If you look at the Red Bull, it is just going to continue to evolve most likely. Some cars do plateau in terms of performance. At some point it can't just keep going. But maybe it can.
"They have a great team around them and I am sure they will continue to add downforce.
"We just have to make sure when we do make the change, hopefully the drop isn't too far, and it is going to take us the rest of the year, for sure, to potentially close that gap."
Hamilton has been outspoken in his criticism of Mercedes' troubled W14 car, which the team plan to make major alterations to just two races into the season.
Expanding on the car's issues, Hamilton said: "I don't know if people know, but we sit closer to the front wheels than all the other drivers. Our cockpit is too close to the front.
"What that does is it really changes the attitude of the car and how you perceive its movement. It makes it harder to predict compared to when you're further back and sitting more centred. It is just something I have really struggled with.
"There is a part of me that is just hopeful we find the trick and are straight on to the right track that is not far away from the others."