George Russell, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024

Mercedes’ practice pace “a shock but we’ll take it” – Hamilton

Formula 1

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Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell said they were surprised how quick their new car is after leading the lap times on Thursday in Bahrain.

Hamilton produced a best time of 1’30.374 which was almost three-tenths of a second quicker than any rival team managed in second practice. Having been ninth in the opening session he couldn’t explain why they had gotten so much quicker.

“We made some improvements over the sessions,” he said, “I don’t understand, it’s a shock to see us where we are, but we’ll take it for now.

“But we can’t get ahead of ourselves, we need to keep our heads down, keep working on the set-up and trying to extract more.”

He said the team has work to do in order to rival Red Bull’s pace in the race. “I think our long-run pace is nowhere near the Red Bulls, for example, and I think we were a lot closer so we’ve got some work to do there,” he said.

Having been unhappy with the handling of the previous two Mercedes as well as their performance, Hamilton declared himself “much happier with the car this year.”

“My seating position is finally further rearwards, I’ve got a better feel for approaching the corners,” he explained. “But there are other areas that have been fixed and improved and it just makes it feel like a race car. And the last two cars didn’t feel like that.

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“So it’s a really good platform for us to work on and we’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep on chasing.”

Russell was also taken aback by Mercedes’ Thursday showing. “We’re not going to get carried away with ourselves,” he said. “The qualifying pace looked really strong. We still need to try and understand why it was so good.

“We made some changes from the tests and it exceeded our expectations. But ultimately the long run pace, which is where it all happens, Max [Verstappen] was still ahead of us. It was very close with Fernando [Alonso], with Lando [Norris] and the Ferraris and Lewis and I were very similar as well.

“So we’ve got a real fight on our hands in race pace. But as I said, we’re really pleased with the day, the car is performing really well but we’re not going to get carried away just with the timesheets just yet.”

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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...

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6 comments on “Mercedes’ practice pace “a shock but we’ll take it” – Hamilton”

  1. would love to see a chart with long run stints as well as speed trap speeds

    1. yes me too!

    2. Speed Traps are always viewable on the official FIA site Event And Timing Information section for each event.

  2. I’d love to see the reason that Max was almost exactly half a second slower than Lewis in both sessions, almost like someone trying to drive a specific margin slower.
    Maybe the RBR will move better without the sandbags?

    1. It’s a bit hard to imagine that he decided to follow Hamilton’s time and then, for some reason, decide to drive exactly half a second slower. You could say the same about any time difference, be that half a second, quarter of a second, tenth of a second… As for sandbagging, Verstappen admitted it himself, he wasn’t even trying to be coy about it. He said that they didn’t use high engine power.

  3. Now they have a stable car, they can afford to turn things up. I hope this is them with everything bolted on. aka that new floor.

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