Lewis Hamilton: Ferrari one-two if Bahrain Grand Prix was tomorrow
While unsure where Mercedes sit in the pecking order after day two of Bahrain testing, Lewis Hamilton believes Ferrari are in a good place.
Mercedes sent some nervous jitters through the paddock when they showed up for the Bahrain test with a very unique W13, trimming away the sidepods to near extinction.
But on the track it is yet to deliver the kind of swashbuckling performance which some had anticipated, with Hamilton managing only P4 on the second day of testing.
As the drivers switched onto the soft rubber to deliver some push laps, Hamilton’s best attempt was 0.609s shy of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who topped the timings.
The Spaniard’s nearest challenger was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who still was 0.479s adrift.
That being said, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen did beat Sainz’s benchmark by north of three-tenths as he continued on for an extra hour after the afternoon session ended as conditions cooled.
W13 under the lights got us like 🤩🤩 pic.twitter.com/KcEUY6S4Wx
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) March 11, 2022
Asked where he believes Mercedes sit in the order judging on the day two times, Hamilton replied: “I really don’t know.”
But, as for the team that he sees as the leader, if the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix was on March 12 rather than March 20, Hamilton would back Ferrari.
“I think Ferrari, for what I can see, today Ferrari would probably be getting a one-two,” he said.
“Maybe Red Bull.”
Of course, as has been the case many of times in the past, there is a belief by some, including Ferrari’s Sainz, that Mercedes are simply sandbagging as to hide their true performance.
Hamilton drew attention though to the onboard footage, which indeed did show the W13 proving to be a handful throughout much of the day.
So, he said Mercedes would need to be “really really really good” to fake such struggles for the sake of throwing rivals teams off.
Told that Sainz believed Mercedes were sandbagging, Hamilton, with a smile, replied: “We’ll be really really really good if we were having all these oversteer moments and having us tacky driving just to hide our cars.
“It’s not the case, no. We definitely have things that we are trying to get through, I think others are struggling less, but maybe when we get to next week we’ll have a bit of an understanding.”
With Hamilton also expressing concern over the bouncing of the W13, which he felt had now become “a bit worse” compared to Barcelona, he was asked if there was a direct link between the radical upgrade and these struggles with driveability.
But the seven-time champ does not believe that the upgrade had altered the way the W13 drives to such an extreme level.
“The car definitely is different to last week, but I think it is more so the tyres working with these temperatures are different here,” he said.
“So it’s a different machine this weekend but I don’t think it’s the change that we’ve made, I think so much great work has gone into creating this upgrade, but it’s just hurdles that we are coming across with this new kind of car that everyone is facing in 2022.
“But I’m confident in the team here and back at the factory that we will figure it out, but it’s definitely not been a smooth run.
“We are just working through lots of different scenarios, trying to figure out how to hold on to the downforce and not have it bouncing as it was in the last test, and now you’re seeing everyone I think in a similar boat. Some have managed to get around it in a better way.
“But it’s difficult out there, it’s bumpy, it’s slippery, there’s sand. In the morning it was way too hot and in the afternoon it’s just gusty.
“It’s tough, you can see on the onboards, tankslappers left, right and centre and then bouncing and bumping, not quite happy at the moment, but we’re trying to tame them.”
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