Bahrain Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton says Ferrari are a different prospect this weekend at Sakhir, as the Scuderia topped both practice session with ease on Friday.
After Mercedes’ dominant showing during the season opening weekend in Australia two weeks ago, Ferrari have responded to their lacklustre pace by going first and second in both practice sessions on Friday in Bahrain.
Sebastian Vettel led Charles Leclerc in both FP1 and FP2 sessions, with the gap over Mercedes almost a full second during the earlier session. With the qualifying simulations on the Soft tyres taking place in the more representative FP2 session, that gap was halved but Ferrari still enjoyed half a second pace advantage over the fastest Merc of Lewis Hamilton.
“The Ferraris have been quick from the get-go and picked up more pace from there, so it’s completely different to what we’ve seen in Melbourne.” said Lewis Hamilton after putting in a 1:29.449 in FP2 – six tenths of a second away from Sebastian Vettel’s best time.
“We had some issues with the balance of the car, but we made improvements for FP2. At the moment it looks like the Ferraris are ahead, so we have to keep our heads down, keep working, analyse things tonight and try and come back stronger tomorrow.”
“I think as we get to Qualifying, everything will get a little bit closer, but it is going to be a tough battle.”
Mercedes race engineer Andrew Shovlin said: “It’s quite hard to work out where we stand today. It certainly seems like we don’t have the advantage we had in Melbourne and also that Ferrari have made a good step forwards. Through the corners we had a decent balance on a single lap and the apex speeds look pretty good compared to our competitors.”
“Ferrari are clearly quick on the straights here but it may be that they are running their power unit a little bit harder than we were today; we’ll find out tomorrow.”