Toto Wolff feels Mercedes are "punching above their weight" after the Silver Arrows finished third and fourth at the 2022 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday. Lewis Hamilton was gifted a podium finish after their 2021 rivals, Red Bull Racing, were forced to retire both their cars.

It became clear on Saturday that Mercedes were not overplaying the issues with their cars as they only qualified fifth and ninth for the race. The Brackley-based team are struggling for rear downforce, and are well off the pace compared to Ferrari and Red Bull Racing.

Hamilton and teammate George Russell were almost half a minute behind Bahrain Grand Prix winner Charles Leclerc before a late safety car gave them a chance to close the gap. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez's retirements with a few laps to go saw the Mercedes drivers jump two places higher than they expected.

Wolff is hopeful that the team can recover sooner rather than later, but made it clear that it will not be a quick fix. Mercedes are expected to again struggle when the F1 juggernaut rolls into Saudi Arabia this weekend for the second race of the season.

Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton (left) and George Russell (right) pose alongside Mercedes chief Toto Wolff Steve Etherington/MERCEDES-BENZ via AFP

"You can see how you can manage expectations," Wolff told Sky Sports F1. "If we would have come in third and fourth last year it would have been very frustrating. But this year I think we are punching above our weight class."

"I think third and fourth is a fantastic result," he added. "I think at the moment we are five and six, third on the road, and we're trying to recover ground but it's not going to come from one day to the other."

Hamilton, meanwhile, was elated with his result after the seven-time world champion picked up his 183rd career podium finish. The Briton jumped from fifth to third in the space of a couple of laps after both Red Bulls suffered reliability issues.

"For sure I definitely didn't expect it," Hamilton said. "I woke up this morning hoping, I had a super, super hope that we'd have a chance to fight, that we have a car that is better than we think."

"But we did struggle in the race. George did a great job and to get a third and fourth is pretty remarkable with the troubles that we have."

Lewis Hamilton
Back in business: Lewis Hamilton will race in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Giuseppe CACACE/POOL