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Formula 1 Bahrain GP

Hamilton didn’t expect to make Bahrain GP Q3 after Mercedes F1 struggles

Lewis Hamilton admits that he didn’t expect to make it through to Q3 at the Bahrain Grand Prix after his Mercedes Formula 1 team struggled for pace earlier in the weekend.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W14

The seven-time world champion progressed from Q2 in third place, and then qualified seventh in the final session, a place behind team-mate George Russell.

Hamilton said that the team had made some good progress after a difficult Bahrain test and a disappointing start to the race weekend on Friday.

“I thought it'd be worse than that, so positive,” he said. “We did some great work overnight, and the car felt much, much better this morning, or early afternoon, and then qualifying was okay.

“I thought we would struggle to get into Q3, but we didn’t, we're in there, and in amongst the fight."

Asked where the overnight performance came from, he replied: "Just with balance."

Hamilton admitted the Mercedes W14 is still lacking rear-end stability, although he believes it has been improved through the race weekend.

"It's definitely better, but we are lacking overall downforce," he explained. "Particularly at the rear, 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 struggle with [tyre] deg.

“Same story you have in previous years. Before last year we had better rear end. It’s something we can work on."

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Erik Junius

Mercedes experimented with two rear wing set-ups over the weekend, with Hamilton focussing on the new lower drag version that was more tailored for the Sakhir track than the one used in testing last week.

"I mean, we were just moving around, working on things,” he said. “I stayed on the new wing and George came back to me.”

Asked if he was confident that it was the right choice, he said: "Who knows? It was pretty much the same. We did the same times on both the wings."

Last year, strong race day pace was a feature of the W13 even at tracks where the team had struggled over one lap, but the W14’s degradation issues mean that Sunday form remains unclear.

"We don't know if we have the pace that we had in long runs last year,” said Hamilton. “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 your long runs are."

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Hamilton acknowledged the frustration of the Mercedes customer team Aston Martin having a quicker car, but he said he was pleased for the Silverstone camp.

"They have pretty much the whole back end of our car, half our car!,” he said. “So it's definitely not great for us. But I am genuinely happy for Aston, I think it's amazing to see their progress, the steps that they've taken.

“I'm really happy for Fernando [Alonso], because he's been here way longer than me. And it's good to have him back in the mix. So hopefully we get some good races."

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