Lewis Hamilton admitted he expected Mercedes would struggle even more than they did in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
“I thought it would be worse than that, so it’s positive,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “We did some great work overnight and the car felt much, much better this earlier this afternoon, and then qualifying was okay.
“I thought we would struggle to get into Q3, but we didn’t. We’re in there and we’re in amongst the fight.”
Last year Mercedes tended to lag behind their rivals in qualifying but were more competitive in the races. Hamilton is unsure whether their new car will have the same trait.
“We don’t know if we have the pace that we had in long runs last year,” he said. “Long run pace was good last year, I don’t know whether we have that with this car. So tomorrow will be telling.
“But I’m hoping we can fight amongst the group that we’re with and it’s really going to be just how good your long runs are.”
Footage from Hamilton’s car showed he was not able to accelerate as hard and as early as several of the quickest drivers around the slow corners at the Bahrain International Circuit. He said this is a continuation of a weakness the team had last year.
“It was definitely better, but we are lacking overall downforce particularly at the rear,” Hamilton explained. “That’s why we can’t get on the power as early as the Red Bulls and the Ferraris on a single lap. That’s why we struggled with the deg[radation].
“So, same story as you have in previous years, before last year we had a better rear end but it’s something we can work on.”
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