Hamilton suffers nightmare start to title defence after Mercedes contract saga

Lewis Hamilton has suffered a nightmare start to the 2021 F1 season – just weeks after ending his Mercedes contract saga.

The Brit’s place in the team for the upcoming Drivers Championship was confirmed last month, signing for one more year at £40m.

It brought an end to a saga lasting since the end of the previous campaign, which saw the 36-year-old win a record-equalling seventh title.

But Hamilton’s return to the track did not exactly go to plan.

The Mercedes star has been in Bahrain with team-mate Valtteri Bottas for the first day of testing in their new car.

He only managed 42 laps, though, and was seen skidding off the track in an uncomfortable display.

While the Finnish racer had gearbox problems – and the team usually very reliable in testing completed the fewest laps of any team.

Mercedes were given 100km on the Bahrain International Circuit on a filming day but were the only side not to use the full allocation.

Team chief Toto Wolff, though, warned that the German manufacturers would be dealing with issues throughout the day.

Speaking during a lunchtime press conference, the Mercedes chief said: “We weren't very fast this morning because we did one lap with an aero rake.

“It wasn't a good start because we had a gearbox issue that came out of nowhere and that we haven't been ready to identify and understand.

“So, I hope, if we are able to have a smoother ride from here onwards then I think we can recover.

“If we have more stumbling blocks then with three days there is not a lot you can do.”

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  • But Hamilton may have been off the mark before getting in the car, with Martin Brundle describing the Brit as “grumpy”.

    “We did a couple of features with him that we will play out through the year on Sky F1,” the commentator told Sky Sports .

    “He was very generous but a bit grumpy actually, I thought generally. It’s interesting that his right-hand man, Marc Hynes, is no longer working with him.

    “I sensed he possibly wasn’t super-happy with the way the negotiations have worked out at Mercedes.”

    READ MORE:Why Lewis Hamilton refused to sign Mercedes F1 contract for longer than one year

    READ MORE:Mercedes in 'constant fear' over 2021 season despite Lewis Hamilton signing deal

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