After yesterday’s beating, Lewis Hamilton tried to use the carrot against Mercedes at the end of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix. To tell the truth, team principal Toto Wolff reluctantly acknowledged that what the 7-time world champion said on Friday in Sakhir, when he spoke of a W14 one second behind Red Bull on race pace, is reality.
In comparison, however, hearing him say that the seventh place obtained on the starting grid of the first race of the year exceeded expectations must have seemed almost a caress, even if he then put the burden of being satisfied just because having managed hitting Q3 was almost a surprise.
“I probably expected it to be even worse, so it’s a pretty good result. We’re not fighting for the win, but we’re not the last either. We’re still in the top 10 and that’s good, because I thought we’d struggle to get into Q3,” Hamilton said hotly.
For tomorrow’s race, however, expectations are still low: “The pace? We didn’t have it in the tests. On the contrary, it seemed that we had a worse race pace than last year. Tomorrow we’ll find out and hopefully we can fight at least with that small group that surrounds us, therefore with the Aston Martins and hopefully also the Ferraris”.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W14
Photo by: Erik Junius
Compared to the tests and the first day of practice, the W14 seems to have taken a step forward in terms of stability, but Hamilton is aware that much more is needed to get close to the best.
“It’s certainly improved, but we lack a bit of downforce. Especially at the rear, that’s why we can’t put power like the Red Bulls and Ferraris on one lap, and that’s why we struggle with degradation. Same story than last year. Before last year we had a better rear end. It’s something we have to work on.”
Finally, he didn’t hide that it hurts to have to start behind the Aston Martin, given that the AMR23 mounts the same engine as the W14 and also has several components in common with the Mercedes single-seater. Returning to battle with Fernando Alonso, however, seems to be a stimulus.
“I mean, they have practically half of our car! So it’s certainly not the best for us. But I’m genuinely happy for Aston, I think it’s amazing to see their progress, the steps forward they’ve made. I’m really happy for Fernando , because he’s been here much longer than me. It’s nice to have him back among the protagonists. We hope to have some good races,” he concluded.
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