Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023

Hamilton expected Mercedes’ qualifying would be worse in Bahrain

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Lewis Hamilton admitted he expected Mercedes would struggle even more than they did in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The team was almost as far off the pace in the first qualifying session of the season as it was at the same circuit a year ago. Hamilton lapped six-tenths of a second off the pole position time and will start tomorrow’s race from seventh on the grid, two places further back than he did last year.

“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.”

Bringing the F1 news from the source

RaceFans strives to bring its readers news directly from the key players in Formula 1. We are able to do this thanks in part to the generous backing of our RaceFans Supporters.

By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the equivalent in other currencies) you can help cover the costs involved in producing original journalism: Travelling, writing, creating, hosting, contacting and developing.

We have been proudly supported by our readers for over 10 years. If you enjoy our independent coverage, please consider becoming a RaceFans Supporter today. As a bonus, all our Supporters can also browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

3 comments on “Hamilton expected Mercedes’ qualifying would be worse in Bahrain”

  1. He knew that they knew that I knew
    That he had an excuse

  2. Maybe he should focus on keeping up with his teammate instead of worrying about his car

    1. True. And even more: he needs to be the one that brings them back to the front. Does he realise this? He comes across as someone who gets in the car and drives it, but has takes no lead in elevating the team. He always had race winning cars to drive, so maybe this is something he just doesn’t know how to do?

Comments are closed.