London, (SATSports) – Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes will face the challenge of finding more pace from their new car ahead of next week’s season-opening Bahrain GP head on, after F1’s serial world champions conceded they were not as fast as Red Bull in pre-season testing.
Mercedes encountered more complications than usual during F1’s condensed pre-season programme, with a gearbox problem leaving them playing catch up on mileage from the first morning while the W12 was not yet balanced to the drivers’ liking.
“I’ve never been a massive fan of testing; I just love racing. On the other end, it might have been good to have had more days,” admitted Hamilton to F1 after the final day.
“It’s probably the only time I’d have ever asked for more days!” Hamilton had two uncharacteristic spins in the car over the weekend and said that “globally through the lap” the W12 was not yet performing to expectations.
Speaking in a team social media video, Hamilton said: “It does appear we are perhaps not quick enough at the moment, but I have every faith in the team. We love challenges and this definitely is a challenge for us with the [rule] changes.
“A couple of spins which are rare for me, but generally have been unhappy with the balance of the car and struggled with it. But nonetheless the car is still in one piece and we still got through the programme.”
Having decided against holding a promotional filming day with the new car before testing which would have acted as an initial shakedown, Mercedes are doing so on Tuesday in Bahrain. It represents their final chance to run the car on track before the opening round on March 26-28, although the running is limited to 100km and must be completed on bespoke tyres that are not raced in 2021.
Mercedes: ‘We may have our work cut out this time’
Although Mercedes have invariably topped the winter mileage tables in the hybrid-turbo engine era they have dominated since the start of 2014, the seven-time champions haven’t always appeared quickest in testing.
That was especially the perception in 2019 when Ferrari appeared to have ‘won’ the winter battle, but Mercedes then dominated the first race.