(CNN)Lewis Hamilton said his Mercedes team is going "backwards" after an underwhelming performance at the weekend's season-opening Grand Prix in Bahrain.
The seven-time world champion battled to finish fifth having begun seventh on the grid, crossing the line nearly 51 seconds behind race winner Max Verstappen.
Hamilton's teammate George Russell finished in seventh to cap off a disappointing start to the 2023 Formula One season for Mercedes.
Afterwards, Hamilton had an honest reaction to how his car and his team performed in contrast to others.
"We definitely can't fight them at the moment -- [Red Bull] were much quicker than us, as were the Astons," the 38-year-old said.
"We're the fourth fastest team now, as opposed to the third last year. We're going backwards, [so] we really have a lot of work to do to close that gap."