Red Bull have stuck the boot in to seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton in the wake of the Mercedes driver's horror start to the 2022 season.
Hamilton's woes went from bad to worse in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, finishing 13th and lapped by defending world champion Max Verstappen.
'SHOULDN'T HAPPEN': Daniel Ricciardo ripped for 'embarrassing' act
'OH MY GOD': F1 world in disbelief over 'insane' Leclerc drama
It was an embarrassing new low for the Mercedes superstar, who has struggled with his car so far this season and conceded after the race at Imola that his title hopes for this season are effectively over.
Hamilton is now 31 points behind Verstappen in the championship and 58 behind Ferrari's current leader Charles Leclerc.
Speaking after the Emilia Romagna GP, Verstappen was typically blunt about the struggles Hamilton is currently experiencing.
“They’ve been slow all year so for me it’s not really anything exciting, it just happens," Verstappen said.
However, it was a remark from Red Bull team advisor Helmut Marko that was even more stinging for Hamilton and Mercedes.
“I mean, he was lapped by us,” Marko told SSN’s Craig Slater after the Emilia Romagna GP.
“Maybe he is thinking he should have stopped last year!”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner insisted that it was too early to write off Hamilton as a title threat.
“Obviously very tough for him (Hamilton) today,” Horner said.
“He’s not forgotten how to drive - it’s only five races ago they were fighting in Abu Dhabi.
“They’ll sort their issues out I’m sure. We don’t write anyone off in this championship because there’s such a long, long way to go.”
While Horner may not be writing Hamilton's title chances off, the Briton has all but declared that his chances of recording a record eighth F1 world title in 2022 are over.
Lewis Hamilton insists title hopes are over
"I'm out of the championship, for sure," Hamilton said in Italy.
"There's no question about that, but I'll still keep working as hard as I can and try to pull it back together somehow.
“Theoretically yes, it’s still possible, but one has to be realistic.
“The problems we have are not small. The car, in terms of how it drives, the issues we have in the way it behaves… these guys are seconds, over a second ahead. There’s a worst-case scenario.
“If we happen to fix this at the next race, which we don’t currently have anything coming to fix it for the next race, we don’t have a solution just yet.
“Even to design something – if we do find what the solution is and we have to change it – the team will work as hard as it can, but things could take a month in design, and getting those things built could take some time.
“So, I think we just keep our heads down. We remain hopeful. We continue to chase but you just have to try and keep an eye on the realistic position we’re in and just got to work hard to make sure that we’re not in this position next year.”
Currently in his 15th year in Formula 1, Hamilton has never failed to win at least one race in every season and the lowest he's finished in the championship is fifth.
“I’ve never been this far down,” said Hamilton, currently sitting seventh in the overall standings.
“We know how these championships work and with those two teams at the front, the Ferraris and Red Bulls who are punching out serious performance, we’ve got to find a second-and-a-half, at least, soon to be ahead of them, and finish ahead of them every single race for the rest of the year, basically.
“That’s not going to be easy.”
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.