Lewis Hamilton sure he'll claim F1 wins again but 'it's going to take some time'

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JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- Lewis Hamilton is convinced he will win races again in Formula One but says he knew his Mercedes team was in trouble as soon as he set eyes on its new car this year.

Hamilton finished fifth at the opening race of the season in Bahrain after Mercedes emerged from preseason testing with the fourth fastest car.

After the first race two weeks ago, Hamilton said his team hadn't listened to his feedback on what changes needed to be made to the car over the winter, although he said on Thursday that those comments were "not the best choice of words".

With rivals Red Bull winning by such a large margin in Bahrain, it raised the question of whether Hamilton, who is 38 years old and yet to sign a new Mercedes contract beyond the end of this year, would ever be in a position to win again in F1.

Asked exactly that ahead of this weekend's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Hamilton answered: "I will win again. It's just going to take some time.

Hamilton, who was 50 seconds adrift of Verstappen by the chequered flag in Bahrain, said he had prepared himself to be off the pace at the start of the year but had not anticipated such a large gap to the front.

"[We knew] we probably wouldn't hit the ground straightaway at the front, but we thought should be there or thereabouts, so it was a bit of a shock when that wasn't the case," he said.

"I knew that we weren't in the right place when we saw the car for the first time, it looked so different to that of our competitors. It's always nerve-wracking in that moment."

Hamilton insists he is not considering leaving Mercedes due to its recent struggles, but called on the team to make bold decisions going forward in order to return to the front.

"Of course, there are times you're not in agreement with certain team members but what's important is we continue to communicate, we continue to pull together," he said. "I still have 100 percent belief in this team. It is my family and I've been here a long time so I don't plan on going anywhere else.

"We all need a kick, we all need to get on. The proof is in the pudding, we've seen where the performance is and how people are extracting the performance and we've got to now start making some bold decisions, some big moves in order to close the gap to these guys [Red Bull] otherwise they will run away with it probably this year unless Ferrari stop them.

"We'll wait and see. Hopefully at some point during the year we're hopeful we might be able to close the gap but at that point it will probably be too late in terms of fighting for a championship but we can still turn some heads hopefully."