Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes driver laments ‘big problems’ as team struggles ahead of Bahrain GP


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Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes are in “big trouble” after struggling in Friday’s practice sessions ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes are in “big trouble” after struggling in Friday’s practice sessions ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton admitted there was no “short-term” fix for the problems with Mercedes’ new car, while team-mate George Russell suggested it was a case of “limitation damage” for them at this weekend’s season-opening Grand Prix in Bahrain.

Continuing the form shown in pre-season, Mercedes stayed adrift of rivals Red Bull and Ferrari in Friday’s two practice sessions at the Sakhir circuit, with Max Verstappen edging Charles Leclerc for the fastest time of the day in P2.

With less than 24 hours to go in Saturday’s season-opening qualifying session, seven-time world champion Hamilton hit a downbeat number after finishing P2 in ninth, more than a second behind Verstappen and 0.6 second to his new Mercedes team-mate Russell. , who was fourth.

Hamilton struggled throughout training on Friday

Hamilton struggled throughout training on Friday

For much of pre-season many in the paddock suspected Mercedes, who have won the constructors’ title for the past eight seasons, were holding back important performances, but Hamilton insists the situation is different from previous years.

“We’ve had small issues in the past, relatively compared to this year we’ve had much smaller issues,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton continued to struggle porpoising in his Mercedes during second practice in Bahrain.

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Hamilton continued to struggle porpoising in his Mercedes during second practice in Bahrain.

Hamilton continued to struggle porpoising in his Mercedes during second practice in Bahrain.

“We’re facing much bigger problems this year. Whatever we’re doing to try and fix that doesn’t really change that, so it looks like it’s probably going to be a longer-term fix, so nothing short-term.

“You look at the Red Bulls, they are very, very far ahead. It’s in the region of eight to nine tenths ahead of us, and Ferrari is probably something like half a second.

“So we fight and fight with those behind them. My mindset is always to try to be the best I can be, to get the most out of the car.”

“As you can see we’re way off the mark, we’re not bluffing like people assumed. It is what it is, we’re going to work as hard as we can and do what we can.”

Russell: Damage Control in Bahrain

Although he outperformed Hamilton to finish fourth – slightly behind Carlos Sainz’s second Ferrari – Russell was also negative about his team’s chances heading into the weekend.

“I think it’s clear that we’re definitely not where we want to be. I think we’ve made a bit of progress, but the pace just isn’t there at the moment. We have to go with the data tonight and understand a little bit why we’re both struggling with the car,” Russell said.

George Russell thinks Mercedes are far behind their rivals heading into the Bahrain Grand Prix after the first day of testing.

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George Russell thinks Mercedes are far behind their rivals heading into the Bahrain Grand Prix after the first day of testing.

George Russell thinks Mercedes are far behind their rivals heading into the Bahrain Grand Prix after the first day of testing.

“We are way off the pace of Red Bull, Ferrari, even AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo are on our pace or faster, so (we have) a bit of work to do.

“We’re trying different things to change the performance, we’re doing everything we can to unlock the potential that we think is there, but we’re just struggling to tap into it at the moment. All we’re trying is two steps forward one take. backtracking and there’s always a bit of a limitation. It’s going to take some time. I think we were all hoping we could figure it out for this weekend, but as it is, we’re not in the fight and we we have work to do.

“There’s nothing drastic you can do overnight. We still have a race weekend on our hands and need to make the best of the situation and maybe damage control, but we have to think about it.”

Hamilton: Balancing and solving the problem, not the brakes

A major problem for Mercedes throughout pre-season has been its inability to overcome ‘porpoising’ issues, which caused its car to bounce around severely in the high-speed parts of the track.

‘Porpoising’ was an issue the whole grid faced during last month’s ‘shakedown’ in Barcelona when the all-new 2022 cars made their first outing, but while the majority of the grid managed to reduce the effects , Mercedes continues to struggle.

Christian Horner says Ferrari were very quick on the first day of testing in Bahrain and it's great to see them competitive again.

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Christian Horner says Ferrari were very quick on the first day of testing in Bahrain and it’s great to see them competitive again.

Christian Horner says Ferrari were very quick on the first day of testing in Bahrain and it’s great to see them competitive again.

As well as ‘porpoising’, Hamilton encountered brake problems during P2 which saw him lock in heavily on several occasions, but he insisted it was not a major concern.

“My two front discs, the left one had a much lower temperature and the right one was going up and I couldn’t balance them,” Hamilton said. “So when you hit the brakes, the right one works, which pulls the steering down because the right does the job and the left doesn’t, and then I had this lockup.

“The braking issue is something we can fix, so it’s not an issue, it’s more the balance and that rebound that we have and the loss of downforce that we seem to have compared to others. It makes things much, much more difficult there.” “

Sky F1's David Croft reviews the best of the action from Friday's practice sessions in Bahrain.

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Sky F1’s David Croft reviews the best of the action from Friday’s practice sessions in Bahrain.

Sky F1’s David Croft reviews the best of the action from Friday’s practice sessions in Bahrain.

The Sky Sports F1 team observed that Hamilton appeared to be suffering from more severe “porpoising” than Russell on Friday, raising questions about his car setup.

It was noted that the Mercedes team were working on major changes to Hamilton’s setup in the minutes before P2, with the driver only able to get into his car once the session had started.

“I think it’s quite an interesting situation because if porpoising is the biggest issue they’re concerned about, they can’t have found a one-car solution,” said Sky Sports F1’s Naomi Schiff.

“So maybe the setup that Lewis uses on his car suits his style of driving better, and maybe the setup they have on George’s car suits his style better and that could make the difference in porpoising.”

Bahrain GP live schedule on Sky Sports F1

Saturday March 19
9:55 a.m.: F3 Sprint race
11:45 a.m.: Third practice of the Bahrain GP (the session starts at 12 p.m.)
2 p.m.: preparation for qualifying for the Bahrain GP
3pm BAHRAIN GP QUALIFYING
4:35 p.m.: F2 Sprint race
5:35 p.m.: Ted’s qualification notebook

Sunday March 20
8:55 a.m.: F3 Feature Race
10:35 a.m.: F2 cross-country race
1:30 p.m.: Grand Prix Sunday: Bahrain
3 p.m.: THE BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX
5 p.m.: Checkered flag: Bahrain
6 p.m.: Ted’s notebook
7 p.m.: Highlights of the Bahrain GP




Sky Sports

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