Hamilton had expected F1 gap to Red Bull in Bahrain qualifying to be "double"

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes’ 0.388-second gap to Max Verstappen in Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying is closer than he expected, after anticipating it being “double” based on pre-season testing.

Hamilton had expected F1 gap to Red Bull in Bahrain qualifying to be "double"

Verstappen gave Red Bull the first pole position of the 2021 season with a storming run to his fourth career pole at the Sakhir track on Saturday, finishing ahead of Mercedes duo Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

After climbing from his W12 following Mercedes’ first season opener qualifying defeat in the turbo-hybrid era, Hamilton said he “absolutely gave it everything I had, but unfortunately it wasn't good enough”.

Speaking in the post-qualifying press conference, Hamilton revealed that the final gap to Verstappen was actually “definitely closer than we expected”.

“I think this is a really good step forward for us,” he continued, referring to Mercedes’ work to improve its package since pre-season testing ended two weeks ago at the same Bahrain track.

“Coming in this weekend we thought it was double the gap that you see today.

“And so that’s really down to some really fantastic work from the men and women back at the factory and people here [at the track]. Just collectively, just all pulling together.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Hamilton also explained how Mercedes’ work since testing had been concentrated on tweaking the package it brought to Bahrain ahead of testing, rather than being able to improve its position with car developments.

“It’s hard to do a huge amount,” said the reigning world champion.

“There’s been no development; it’s just really been about fine-tuning the car and trying to understand the envelope that we have.

“It’s different to last year’s with these changes, and so we’re down in certain places, but it’s going to take some time to catch those up.

Read Also:

“But it might be specific to here and not elsewhere, maybe.”

When asked if he thought Mercedes would be able to beat Red Bull on race pace in Sunday’s grand prix – data collected in Friday practice revealed the two squads were almost exactly equal on the medium tyres, albeit when free to choose engine modes and fuel loads – Hamilton replied: “It will be difficult to say.

“I think [if] they’ve got the pace gap they have [in qualifying]… usually they carry that through into the race – they’re very strong in race conditions.

“I’d like to think we can close up a little bit, but I think they’ve got at least two-tenths in hand.”

shares
comments

Related video

Masi: FIA to take stricter line on F1 first lap contact
Previous article

Masi: FIA to take stricter line on F1 first lap contact

Next article

Why entrepreneurism is still alive in motorsport

Why entrepreneurism is still alive in motorsport
How Ferrari’s Monaco headache became its Silverstone migraine Plus

How Ferrari’s Monaco headache became its Silverstone migraine

OPINION: Ferrari won the British Grand Prix with Carlos Sainz, but it ultimately cost Charles Leclerc a chance to make a bigger dent in Max Verstappen's title lead by leaving the Monegasque out on old tyres towards the end. Like Monaco, indecision over strategy proved to be the Scuderia's biggest issue - and if the team doesn't reflect, the headache can only intensify

The five factors behind Sainz winning a British GP he’d twice lost Plus

The five factors behind Sainz winning a British GP he’d twice lost

Formula 1 has a newest race winner, in a grand prix the victor appeared to have lost twice, only to charge back to headline a sensational and dramatic British Grand Prix. From a massive start crash to a late sprint finish, here’s how five factors saw Carlos Sainz take his maiden grand prix win

Formula 1
Jul 4, 2022
Why there was no case to answer in Aston’s latest F1 copycat saga Plus

Why there was no case to answer in Aston’s latest F1 copycat saga

The appearance of a revised Aston Martin in Spain caused controversy but PAT SYMONDS explains why the FIA investigation found the Silverstone team had no case to answer

Formula 1
Jul 3, 2022
Why it's Red Bull that really leads a three-way fight so far at Silverstone Plus

Why it's Red Bull that really leads a three-way fight so far at Silverstone

After a slow start to Friday at Silverstone, all the Formula 1 teams had to effectively cram in a day’s worth of practice into one hour. But there was still plenty to learn and while Ferrari topped the times, a three-way battle is brewing ahead of the British Grand Prix

Formula 1
Jul 2, 2022
Why the future is bright for the British GP Plus

Why the future is bright for the British GP

It wasn’t so long ago the situation looked bleak at Silverstone with the future of the British Grand Prix under threat. But a transformation has seen it restored to one of the most important races on the Formula 1 calendar, with bigger and better to come

Formula 1
Jul 1, 2022
Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone? Plus

Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone?

For the first time in many years, none of the local racers starts among the favourites for the British Grand Prix. But George Russell, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris could have reasons for optimism

Formula 1
Jun 30, 2022
Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return Plus

Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return

Max Verstappen is the world’s number one racing driver… and he’s determined to keep it that way. Speaking exclusively to GP Racing's OLEG KARPOV, the Red Bull driver explains why he’s relishing the 2022 championship battle with Charles Leclerc – and why he’s not worried about returning to Silverstone, the scene of the biggest accident of his career last year

Formula 1
Jun 30, 2022
Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team Plus

Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team

On Tuesday, Red Bull laid out its plans to develop and build a new hypercar - the RB17 - penned by Adrian Newey. As the project itself sates Newey as a creative outlet, it also offers Red Bull's Formula 1 team a number of new and exciting avenues to pursue

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022