Lewis Hamilton returned to the podium at the Canadian Grand Prix and sees potential in his car as Mercedes battle issues with their W13 model.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton had not finished on the podium since the season-opener in Bahrain, but secured third place in Montreal behind Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz.

The Briton's struggles have largely been down to his Mercedes W13 car porpoising – otherwise known as bouncing unevenly.

Hamilton faced such difficulties at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, struggling with back problems after a painful ride in Baku that led to doubts over him featuring in the next race.

However, the 37-year-old subsequently confirmed he would compete and spoke gleefully after securing his second podium in nine attempts.

"It's quite overwhelming to get this third place – it's been such a battle this year with the car, but we continue to stay vigilant, focused and never giving up, and that's something I'm proud of," Hamilton said.

"We're getting closer, so we've got to keep pushing and keep pushing, and hopefully we'll eventually be in the fight with these guys."

Hamilton, speaking to Sky Sports after the race, thanked the team working on the car as he reflected on an emotional season.

"I want to say a big shout to the team back home, they are working so hard at the factory week in week out. It’s difficult working and not seeing any progress," he added to Sky Sports.

"It's been a difficult year for me personally and in the car. Qualifying was emotional for me and back in the garage we were like 'wow, this is beautiful for us', we have been working so hard.

"Then to have a strong race just gives me so much hope and confidence that we can move forwards.

"There is potential in this car, it's not currently where we want it to be, it's just got a really small working window and if you don't get it perfect it's all over the place.

"That's a really hard thing to navigate through, but the team did a great job this weekend."

Hamilton's fellow Mercedes team-mate George Russell maintained his run of finishing in the top five in every race this season, settling for fourth.

That saw Mercedes move to 188 points in the constructor standings, 116 behind leaders Red Bull, and Toto Wolff acknowledged his team still have much to work on.

"They were both very good and they were on different set-ups and different rear wing settings. We showed some pace today," Wolff said.

"Before the safety car came out at the end we were actually quicker than Sainz. You're picking out a few laps and saying, 'yeah we are back' but I don't think that's the case yet, we just need to keep on working.

"The way forward, we just need to develop the car in a different window than we had. We were having it really low on the ground and clearly that doesn't function. 

"I think before we start looking to fix the problems, you need to understand where the issues are.

"I think we have development direction. We haven't got it right in many areas but we own the problem and we will fix it." 

While Russell secured yet another top-five finish, he warned that the issues with cars porpoising is far from over.

"I had total confidence we were able to carve our way past the Haas and Alpines," he said. 

"We were certainly concerned [Charles] Leclerc and Checo [Sergio Perez] would be able to come through and be fortunate to keep them behind us.

"Ultimately, our race pace was closer to Ferrari and Red Bull than we've seen all season, but the inherent performance isn't there yet.

"It was a shame I couldn't get the tyres going at the end, probably would have liked to pit before the first safety car, and then have been in the fight at the end.

"Nevertheless, P4, it's good points for the team and great to be back on the podium for the team.

"It was definitely bumpy out there, down the straight the car was just hitting the ground. It'll be a good sleep again tonight for sure.

"I think there are so many different factors [with the porpoising], this global issue with the 2022 cars is far from over."

Toto Wolff has dismissed a suggestion Lewis Hamilton is in decline and says the seven-time Formula One champion has proved he is a "genius" this season.

Hamilton dramatically missed out on a record eighth F1 title last year when he was dethroned by Max Verstappen in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

The Briton is languishing in sixth place in the driver standings eight races into the 2022 season, with his team-mate George Russell fourth.

Mercedes sit third in the constructor standings, 108 points adrift of leaders Red Bull, and Hamilton suffered back pain due to his rattling car during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last weekend.

Wolff, Mercedes' team principal, does not believe Hamilton's high standards have slipped this year.

"No, I don't think it’s like that, he is the best that has ever been," he said when asked if Hamilton is in decline.

"Between Abu Dhabi in 2021, dominating the last third of the season, to four months later, you are not losing your ability."

He added: "How they appear to me, both of them [Russell and Hamilton], it’s very professional.

"They have been given a car that is a bit sub-par, each of them tries to develop the car further, they have both gone [in] a different set-up direction, Lewis [during qualifying in Azerbaijan] again very experimental, but can be available in the long term.

"I think as long as the car is not good enough to really be racing at the front, the differences are small and I don't think you can have a pattern saying 'George is continuously outperforming Lewis' or the other way around."

Wolff pinpointed Hamilton's recovery from making contact with Kevin Magnussen on the first lap of the Spanish Grand Prix to finish fifth as an example of Hamilton's brilliance.

"He went as far as to say that in Barcelona, where Hamilton recovered from early contact with Kevin Magnussen to finish P5, the genius," he said.

"We have seen Lewis in Barcelona, he was the genius that we know, so I think what I enjoy is them working together and trying to bring the car back to the front."

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has revealed that Lewis Hamilton is doubtful to compete in next weekend's Canadian Grand Prix due to a back injury sustained in Azerbaijan. 

The seven-time world champion had an impressive drive to finish fourth in Baku, one place behind team-mate George Russell, but encountered physical struggles due to severe bouncing during the 51-lap race. 

Mercedes' W13 has encountered issues with bouncing throughout the season so far and the addition of a bumpy street circuit left Hamilton describing the race as the "most painful" of his illustrious career, having complained over team radio about the pain in his back during the race. 

Wolff said there is a "definitely" a risk that Hamilton will sit out of the next race in Montreal, stating: "I haven't seen him or spoken to him afterwards, but you can see this is not muscular anymore. This goes properly into the spine and can have some consequences. 

"He's really bad and we just have got to find a solution at this stage. He's maybe the worst affected of all drivers, but pretty much everyone, as far as I understand from the drivers, said something needs to happen. I couldn't give you an explanation as to what that is." 

A debate in the paddock has been developing as to whether Formula One's design regulations for the 2022 season need to be revised to protect the drivers, with bouncing being an issue for several drivers across the grid. 

There were questions as to whether the issues in Baku were caused by bottoming, where the bottom of the car makes contact with the road, or whether it was bouncing in general, but Wolff believes it is both. 

"I think they are very much linked together. We are seeing tracks where we have porpoising and then we have bouncing," he said.

"Some cars are bottoming so it's not really clear – it's all interlinked with the aerodynamic performance of the floor." 

McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo was among those to suffer with bouncing in Baku and, while it hasn't been a regular problem for him throughout the course of the season, he expressed his sympathy to Mercedes and stated he will support any push for changes. 

The current regulations are in place until 2026 but are likely to be revised along the way, with increases to the annual budget and the potential of a driver salary cap currently being hot topics throughout the paddock. 

Lewis Hamilton says he was "praying" for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix to end due to back pain brought on from his bouncing Mercedes car.

The seven-time world champion complained over the team radio and later struggled to get out of his car at the end of Sunday's race.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff apologised to Hamilton for the ongoing porpoising issue, which has been a particular problem in Baku due to the high speeds and bumpy street layout.

"Lewis, we all know this is a bit of a s***box to drive at the moment. I'm sorry for the back also, we will sort ourselves out," Wolff said.

Speaking earlier this week, Hamilton's team-mate George Russell warned Formula One chiefs to expect a "major incident" if action is not taken to address the problem.

Despite the pain, Hamilton finished in fourth, one place behind Russell, and says he got through the race on adrenaline alone.

"Yeah, that's the only thing [that kept me going]," he told Sky Sports. "Biting down on my teeth through pain and just adrenaline.

"I can't express the pain that you experience, particularly on the straight here. At the end, you're just praying for it to end.

"We're in such a good position still, we got third and fourth which is a great result for the team. 

"The team did a great job with the strategy. Once we fix this bouncing, we're going to be right there in a race but we're losing over a season just with bouncing, for sure. 

"Or at least a second with bouncing… I'll be at the factory tomorrow. We've got to have some good discussions and keep pushing."

McLaren's car has also experienced bouncing problems and Daniel Ricciardo, who finished eighth, compared it to having his head knocked around like a basketball.

"You know when pro basketball players bounce the ball really low? That's what I felt like someone was doing to my helmet," he said.

"I know George has been vocal about it like it's not sustainable. I feel rattled. It's definitely not good. It's not good for our general health and well-being."

Lewis Hamilton was "super happy" after a promising practice session for Mercedes ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton and his team-mate George Russell recorded two of the best three times in FP2, behind Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who was fastest across both practice sessions at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Mercedes were also quicker than Red Bull down the straights, which has not been the case so far in a frustrating season for the team.

Russell is fourth in the drivers' standings, two places ahead of seven-time world champion Hamilton, who has not held back in his criticism of Mercedes so far this season.

But on Friday, he was in a much better mood.

"Positive," he told reporters. "Super happy with the progress, so a big, big, big thank you to everyone back at the factory for not giving up and for continuing to push.

"We're not the quickest yet, but we're on our way. This is the first time that we've driven down the straight without bouncing.

"We still have some bouncing, but it's way better and [we're] starting to eke out a bit of the potential in that car.

"It's still tough out there with the car but it's much nicer than it's been before. So yeah, really grateful for those upgrades – we now need to just fine-tune them into the next session.

"Lots of data to go over to try and position the car, I think we can get it into a better place for tomorrow so that we can tackle the heels of the guys up ahead."

Toto Wolff added: "We've had a second solid Friday like we had in Miami, just we have to see when the grip keeps coming tomorrow, whether we're able to keep that kind of performance and at least be in the mix or solid in the top three.

"So, progress, but not exuberance and ecstasy."

Mercedes principal Toto Wolff has refused to rule out the team reverting to an older car concept as they continue to trail Red Bull and Ferrari after enduring a poor start to the season.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished fifth and sixth respectively at the inaugural Miami Grand Prix on Sunday as the team's difficult start to the 2022 campaign continued, leading Wolff to declare Mercedes were "in no man's land" as the third-fastest outfit on the grid.

Both drivers have criticised the feel of the team's W13 car after managing just one podium finish apiece this term, with seven-time drivers' champion Hamilton asserting the team were yet to take a "step forward" after a troubled start to the season.

Mercedes' eight-year run of constructors' championships now looks destined to come to an end, with Ferrari possessing a slender lead over Red Bull in the team standings after five races.

Speaking after reigning world champion Max Verstappen claimed victory in Florida, Wolff said a return to the car concept used during pre-season testing at Barcelona could not be ruled out, despite it being "clearly much slower on paper".

However, Wolff said the team's focus had to be on making the current iteration of the car work.

"We need to find out how we can make the current car work predictably for the drivers," he said.

"I wouldn't discount anything. But we need to give all of our people that have produced great race cars in the past the benefit of the doubt and we believe this is the route to go.

"We are faithful to the current concept. We're not looking at the lady next door [to see] if we like it more or not, because it's still good. 

"We need to understand, before we make a decision on another concept – where did this one go wrong? And what is the goodness of the concept and what is the badness of the concept?"

Lewis Hamilton was frustrated to be asked to make the call on whether to pit under a virtual safety car during the Miami Grand Prix. 

It seemed like Hamilton would take advantage of the opportunity to switch onto fresh tyres after Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly collided, as team-mate George Russell did. 

However, Mercedes appeared to dither on whether to pit the seven-time champion, who eventually opted to stay out on the hard compound. 

Hamilton ended up being overtaken by Russell in the closing stages and finished directly behind him in sixth, with the two Ferraris coming between race winner Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. 

The Mercedes driver did not understand why he was left to make the call on whether to pit or not. 

"In that scenario [the virtual safety car], I have no clue where everyone is, so when the team say it's your choice, I don't have the information to make the decision," Hamilton told Sky Sports. 

"That's what your job is, make the decision for me; you've got all the details, I don't. So, that's what you rely on the guys for, but today they gave it to me and I didn't understand it. 

"But anyway, it's just been a bit unfortunate with the safety car, but at least we got points today. We're finishing, reliability is good. I'm excited to at some stage to take a step forward, which we haven't yet." 

Team principal Toto Wolff revealed Mercedes are struggling for morale as the usually dominant team continue to find themselves quite a distance behind Red Bull and Ferrari this season.

"George stayed out a long time, and we were betting on a safety car for him and that materialised from nowhere, but it went against Lewis, who lost a position," said Wolff. 

"At the end of the day, there's no happy or not happy moment at the moment. It's just a bit down. We're third quickest on the road, which is no man's land. This is where we are. 

"We're not as quick in qualifying sometimes, and you have the outliers, and we go back to where we are, which is behind the Red Bulls and Ferrari." 

Russell, who failed to get out of Q2 on Saturday and started 12th, believes Mercedes do have a good car this year but are yet to find a way to get it working well for them.

"It was mixed feelings. Based on [Saturday] it was a good result. We have a fast race car in there, we don't have the key to unlock it. There's more to do," he said. 

"It's frustrating, but I'm sure we'll get there at some point. 

"It's good, when you battle with your team-mate, you show more respect, give more space. I enjoyed it. I think there's good respect between us. I was pushing as hard as I could." 

Lewis Hamilton scotched any suggestion he might still challenge for the Formula One drivers' title after an Imola nightmare on Sunday. 

The seven-time champion placed 13th at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and was lapped by race winner Max Verstappen, leaving him a distant seventh in the 2022 standings after four races. 

Hamilton's former Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg questioned team principal Toto Wolff's assertion that it was the car, rather than the driver, that had been the dominant factor in the British star struggling. 

Given Hamilton's team-mate George Russell finished a creditable fourth, Rosberg believes Wolff chose his words carefully in an effort to gee up his lead driver. 

Speaking to Sky Sports, Hamilton said it had been "a weekend to forget, that's for sure". 

When asked about title prospects and the possibility of fighting his way back into contention, Hamilton said: "I am out of the championship, for sure. There's no question about that. But I will still keep working as hard as I can and try and somehow pull it back together somehow." 

Rosberg raced for Mercedes from 2010 to 2016, pipping Hamilton to the title in his final year with the team before driving off into retirement. 

Wolff described the Mercedes as "undriveable" as he spoke to Hamilton over team radio at the end of Sunday's race in Italy, saying it was not fit for a world champion. 

But Rosberg, also speaking to Sky Sports, believes that was a case of clever politics from the Mercedes team chief. 

"Here, Toto was playing the mental game which is very smart on his behalf again, taking the blame themselves and really trying to support Lewis mentally. Lifting him up and saying that it wasn't Lewis' doing, it's on us," Rosberg said. 

"It's very smart because it's not quite the truth and let's not forget that Russell is in P4 with that same car, so Lewis definitely had a big role to play in that poor result this weekend." 

Rosberg believes there was "more in that car" than Hamilton has been able to find. 

He added: "It's so important that Lewis keeps that motivation through the whole season, it's important for the team and it's quite easy for Lewis to lose it in these kinds of situations." 

Lewis Hamilton received an apology from Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff after finishing a sorry 13th in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

Seven-time Formula One king Hamilton was told by Wolff his car had been "undriveable", and "not worthy for a world champion".

Wolff also said it had been "a terrible race" for the team. That was despite George Russell faring rather better than team-mate Hamilton, coming home in fourth position to collect points.

Hamilton wound up empty-handed and sits seventh in the championship with 28 points from the first four races of the season, already 21 points behind Russell and 58 adrift of leader Charles Leclerc.

To boot on Sunday, there was the embarrassment of Hamilton being lapped by Max Verstappen on lap 40, a sign of the times in their rivalry.

In an exchange over team radio at the end of the race, Silver Arrows team principal Wolff told Hamilton: "Sorry for what you have needed to drive today.

"I know this is undriveable and not what we deserve to score as a result. So we will move from there, but this was a terrible race."

Hamilton replied: "Yeah, no worries, Toto. Let's keep working hard."

Mercedes face a major challenge to match the pace of the Ferrari and Red Bull cars this season, with the next race a fortnight away in Miami.

"We will come out of this," Wolff said.

Speaking later to Sky Sports, Wolff said it had been a "really bad" result for Hamilton.

"He got squeezed by the Alpine, the other two cars undercut and there's just no overtaking when you're in a DRS train," Wolff said.

"We saw from George what the car can do in free air, but we are not good enough for a world champion, not worthy for a world champion. We just need to fix the car.

"I think we are going to look at things for Miami. I think we can make a step in the understanding of the car. It's another day, we just really need to understand more and bring development to the car which will fix the bouncing."

Lewis Hamilton remains staunch in his stance against the FIA's jewellery ban, with the seven-time world champion insisting "you should be able to be who you are".

New race director Niels Wittich, who replaced Michael Masi at the start of the season, informed Formula One drivers that the ruling on accessories would be reinforced before the Australian Grand Prix.

Wittich suggested "body piercing or metal neck chains" were forbidden, with checks to be undertaken before races, but Hamilton still competed on Sunday with piercings in both ears and a nose stud.

The 37-year-old could, in theory, be penalised both financially and in terms of points for breaking the sporting code, with F1's race director insisting the rules were to prevent injury for the driver.

However, Hamilton – who finished fourth in Melbourne, one place behind Mercedes team-mate George Russell – does not intend on removing his jewellery.

"I don't have any plans on removing them," he said. "I feel they are personal things. You should be able to be who you are. There's stuff that I can't move.

"I literally can't take these out [gesturing to piercings on his right ear]. They're literally welded on so I'd have to get them chopped off or something. So they'll be staying.

"It's been the rule forever. Since I've been here it's been the rule, so there's nothing new. I'm just going to come with more jewellery next week."

The jewellery ban has been in place since 2004, but Wittich made a special effort to stress the rule was back into strong consideration in his pre-race notes in Melbourne.

While Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff praised the work of the new race director thus far, he questioned whether Wittich needed to pick a problem with what he sees as a minute issue.

"How he has run the first few races has been respectful, solid and he hasn't put a single foot wrong," Wolff said, as reported by PA Media.

"But is that [jewellery ban] a battle he needs to have at this stage? However, if it turns out to be the biggest unfortunate misstep of a race director, I would take it a thousand times over."

McLaren driver Lando Norris believes the struggles of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are reassuring for Formula One.

Hamilton squeezed onto the podium in Bahrain in the season opener despite ongoing questions following a series of design changes by his team to comply with new regulations for the 2022 season.

However, he then succumbed to his first performance-related Q1 elimination since 2009 in Saudi Arabia as Mercedes failed to make the top five on the grid for the first time since the 2013 Italian Grand Prix.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has since acknowledged that instant solutions would not be found for their new W13 car 'porpoising' – bouncing at high speed – and not racing at the optimum height.

And Norris believes it is refreshing for the rest of the grid to see the usually dominant Mercedes well behind Ferrari, who hold a 40-point lead over Red Bull in the constructors' championship after two races.

"In a way it is nice to see that Mercedes don't always have success," Norris told The Daily Mail. "It shows that even when you have had that success, you can still get things wrong. It is easy to get things wrong.

"Much as I hate to say it, it is good to see Ferrari up there. And it is reassuring for other teams to know it is still possible. If it were just Mercedes and Red Bull again, it would be so predictable.

"With Lewis you are seeing the challenge of one of the best drivers competing in a car that is not the best. We will see a different side of Lewis, compared to the last decade.

"But I don't think you can say it is all about the car, rather than Lewis' ability. He has still been against very good drivers, such as Fernando [Alonso] in his first year, and then went on to achieve what everyone expected of him.

"I just don't believe in the last few years he has had quite the challenge that he could have had, or maybe that he had against [Nico] Rosberg. Perhaps we will see that against George [Russell, Hamilton's new team-mate].

"I don't think anything takes away the driver he is."

Norris has endured a similarly tough start to his season with McLaren, finishing almost a minute behind winner Max Verstappen in Jeddah, but he feels he made the right choice to join his new team.

"I see a lot of stories saying I have made the wrong decision," he added. "But that is not the case. I am happy. I have all the faith in the world that we can still achieve good things in the next few years and if I had to make the decision again, I would still do what I did.

"There were chances to go to other teams, but I am playing the long game."

The 22-year-old, who is 10th in the drivers' championship, will hope he can kick-start McLaren's 2022 campaign at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton may be in search of a third Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, but Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff warned not to expect a "magic fix" amid a slow start to the season.

Mercedes have fallen well short of early leaders Ferrari, who hold a 40-point advantage over Red Bull in the constructors' championship after the opening two races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Hamilton managed to finish third in Bahrain in the season opener despite ongoing questions following a series of design changes by his team to comply with new regulations for the 2022 season.

However, Hamilton succumbed to his first performance-related Q1 elimination since 2009 in Jeddah as Mercedes failed to make the top five on the grid for the first time since the 2013 Italian Grand Prix.

Wolff was honest in his assessment ahead of the next race in Melbourne, with Mercedes aiming to rectify their issues with the W13 'porpoising' – bouncing at high speed – and not racing at the optimum height.

"We are in a learning race and the first two weekends have shown we still have plenty to learn," he said on Thursday.

"At the moment, our track performance is not meeting our own expectations, but everyone at Brackley and Brixworth is focused on understanding the problems and finding the right solutions.

"There won’t be a magic fix for the next race weekend. But we're pushing to steadily bring gains over the upcoming races, to hopefully move us closer to the front of the pack.

"Until then, we need to maximise each opportunity and make the most of the package we have."

Both Hamilton and George Russell played their part in the W13 development, and Wolff appears unworried by the upcoming challenges with his driving pair to call upon.

"Lewis and George are making an important contribution to the overall effort," he continued. 

"Providing feedback, spending time in the simulator and working together to help push us forward.

"So, there are various challenges ahead of us but that's something we relish, and is when a team really shows its true spirit."

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes have "a lot of work" to do to match Red Bull and Ferrari after a disappointing Saudi Arabian Grand Prix performance.

The seven-time world champion was knocked out following a shaky Q1 session on Saturday, and he began from 15th on the grid and ultimately came home 10th in Jeddah, saying it was a "gutting" outcome.

Hamilton could have finished higher were it not for pit-stop confusion amid virtual safety car conditions a dozen laps from the end, while George Russell drove a sedate race to finish fifth.

Both were well off the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari, who locked out the front two rows in qualifying and then the podium as Max Verstappen got off the mark for the season with the win.

Speaking afterwards, Hamilton felt little had been done to improve the Mercedes car since Bahrain owing to the short turnaround, and said the pace of his vehicle remains a serious concern.

"Not much has changed really since the last race. It's only been a few days," the Briton said.

"What I know is that today, I couldn't keep up with the Haas at the end. The power they have, they came sling-shotting past me when I overtook [Haas driver Kevin] Magnussen earlier on in the race."

However, Hamilton, who drove to a P3 in the season-opener last weekend after both Red Bull cars suffered mechanical failures late on, believes he has the crew to help turn things around.

"We've got a lot of work to do for sure, but I know we've got a great team, and we'll just keep our heads down and try to improve," he said on Sky Sports.

Hamilton added: "It's gutting but we need to keep fighting, it's all we can do."

Team principal Toto Wolff admitted Mercedes' performance was a grim reminder of how far off the pace they are so far, saying: "Today’s race was the reflection of where we currently stand.

"The overall picture is sobering, and it's clear that we need to continue working hard if we wish to deliver a stronger performance in Melbourne."

Hamilton faces a two-week wait in which to help fine-tune his car before the F1 season resumes with the first Australian Grand Prix since 2019.

The new Formula One season is only a single race old, but Charles Leclerc has already matched the achievement of one title-winning former Ferrari star.

Now, ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Leclerc is out to try to repeat a Michael Schumacher feat and set a championship charge in motion.

The Monegasque driver led a Ferrari one-two in Bahrain last week, holding off Max Verstappen before the defending champion's mechanical woes ensured Carlos Sainz joined his team-mate on the top two steps of the podium.

It was the Scuderia's first race win since the 2019 Singapore GP, another one-two when Leclerc finished second to Sebastian Vettel.

The Leclerc-Sainz one-two was Ferrari's 85th in F1 – a record – and signalled a return to form, coming at the end of a weekend they had dominated, with the race winner also qualifying fastest to start from pole position.

Heading into the rest of the season, that should certainly provide Leclerc with encouragement, given the last Scuderia driver to start the season with a win from pole was Kimi Raikkonen in 2007. That was the most recent season in which a Ferrari driver won the title.

Indeed, should Leclerc convert pole again in Saudi Arabia, he would become the first Ferrari man to do so in the first two races of a campaign since Schumacher in his final title-winning season in 2004.

Leclerc and Sainz each discussed their title ambitions following Bahrain, so last week's runner-up will hope to go with his colleague again.

Ferrari have never had a one-two in each of the first two grands prix of a season, while Raikkonen and Felipe Massa in 2008 were their last duo to achieve such a result in consecutive races at any stage of the year.

Meanwhile, if Leclerc hopes to follow in Schumacher's footsteps, Mercedes rival George Russell does not.

Schumacher in 2010, then in the twilight of his legendary career after coming out of retirement, was the only Silver Arrows driver to this point fail to make the podium in his first three races with the team.

A pit-stop error and a puncture saw Russell finish his Mercedes debut in ninth when deputising for Lewis Hamilton at the 2020 Sakhir GP, while he was fourth behind his new team-mate last week.

The Red Bull woe that boosted Ferrari also rescued that three-four result for Mercedes, but team principal Toto Wolff said: "It's too early to look at the championship as it stands. If you look at the pecking order today, it seems a long shot to even be in contention for any of the championships.

"If I look at [Bahrain] as a single race weekend, we probably scored the maximum of points that we could have. And we need to take it from there.

"Every weekend counts and, at the moment, it's singular events because, realistically, when you're third on the road, you can't think about winning it."

Lewis Hamilton made the podium at the Bahrain Grand Prix only due to a double Red Bull retirement but accepted it was the best result he could have hoped for.

As Mercedes' struggles with their new W13 car continued, Hamilton was never in contention on Sunday, running in fifth for much of the race.

But issues for Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in the Red Bulls allowed the seven-time champion to profit behind a Ferrari one-two in third.

Hamilton congratulated victor Charles Leclerc and the Scuderia – "they're such a historic, epic team, so it's great to see them up there," he said – but was also content with his own finish.

"It was such a difficult race," he explained. "We struggled throughout practice. This was really the best result we could have got.

"Obviously it was unfortunate for the other two drivers, but we did the best we could and we're grateful for these points."

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff agreed, telling Sky Sports: "You can see how we've managed expectations.

"If we'd come in last year third and fourth, it would have been very frustrating, but this year I think we are punching above our weight class with the Red Bulls DNFing. Third and fourth is a fantastic result."

Mercedes must now turn attention to making their car competitive for the rest of the season, yet Hamilton is staying patient.

"I'm hoping [for upgrades]," Hamilton said. "I know the guys are working really hard back at the factory, but it's not going to be a quick turnaround.

"We all know as a team, we've been the best unified team for so long, we all know to keep our head down, keep working. There's a long, long way to go."

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